Crisp County Sheriff's Office recognizes deputy

Deputy Jake Kelley was awarded the 2017 Officer of the Year.

Photo: Kailey McCarthy

At over 100 employees, the Crisp County Sheriff's Office has many key team members that keep the organization running.

FOX 31 spent Wednesday with one deputy who says he wouldn't be where he is today without his family and mentors.

At a young 21 years old, Crisp County Sheriff's Deputy Jake Kelley is the youngest employee at the Sheriff's Office.

He says as a kid, he was always fascinated by law enforcement but it wasn't until high school that he met a key mentor who steered him in the right direction.

"I wasn't the athlete that a lot of my friends were by no means at all. What I took away from team sports was the coaches who gave their life's goal to the youth and bettering kids," said Kelley.

Freshman year, Kelley joined the baseball team and over the next four years, he built a relationship with Sheriff Billy Hancock.

Shortly after his 2014 graduation, he left Cordele to go to college in Jacksonville in hopes of becoming a welder.

"It just, it wasn't for me. I feel like everybody's got something they're meant to do and the more you run from it the more it's going to pull you back to it," said Kelley.

That's when Kelley went to the Sheriff's farm and told him he was ready to become a law enforcement officer.

Sheriff Billy Hancock told him, "Well son it's not all sunshine and rainbows, it's seeing some stuff that you don't want to wake up and see a lot of times. But, in the end, the impact you make in these people's lives, that's what makes a difference," said Kelley.

Through hard work and dedication, Kelley became the Crisp County 2017 Officer of the Year, an award he credits to his co-workers.

"Every day is a learning experience. It was an honor to get it. It wouldn't have happened if it wouldn't have been for all those guys who said hey, we were in your shoes, we were 21 once, I know your young but, let's try this," said Kelley.

And if it weren't for his family, Kelley said he wouldn't be where he is today.

"When you have parents who raised you up and said if you can help them, help them. And then you get a boss, a sheriff who says if you can help them, help them. If you don't help them, not only are you letting down yourself, your letting down everybody who has made you who you are," said Kelley.

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