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Retirement leads to staff changes at Columbia County Sheriff's Office

Posted: October 9, 2015 - 5:51pm  |  Updated: October 14, 2015 - 12:41am
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Maj. Steve Morris will head Detention and Court Services at the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.   Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Maj. Steve Morris will head Detention and Court Services at the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.

A game of musical chairs within the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office ranks will lead to a new public information officer.

Sheriff’s Maj. Steve Morris has been the conduit for information from the department for more than 20 years, the department’s only formal PIO.

Morris was recently promoted from captain to major to replace Maj. John Wheeler, who is retiring at the end of October.

“He was definitely a natural choice for that position,” Sheriff Clay Whittle said.

Morris will be overseeing Detention and Court Services.

“I’m honored and humbled by this opportunity the sheriff has given me,” Morris said.

”I’m passionate about the Criminal Investigations Division. We have an awesome group of people working there. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Despite learning his new duties, he’ll help train and choose a replacement to deal with the public and media. Some potential replacements are being tested out.

“We’re going to look at multiple captains and trying them out,” Whittle said. “Until we feel confident in a new PIO, Steve Morris is still the PIO.”

Morris, a lifelong resident of Columbia County, tried to get a job at the sheriff’s office at 18, but was told he was too young. He went to work at the Medical College of Georgia and earned a degree and gained a lot of experience before returning to the sheriff’s office in

1987.

“My passion was law enforcement,” Morris said. “I always knew I wanted
to be in law enforcement in the county
in which I was born and raised. So I got
a job here, there was an investigator opening. I went straight into investigations.”

Morris remained an investigator until

1995, when he was promoted to
captain of the Road Patrol. He stayed in that position for eight years before transferring to CID.

He began serving as PIO on and off and moved into the position full time in addition to overseeing CID operations.

Wheeler’s retirement is leading to a long chain of promotions and staff changes that will run from the upper ranks to the newest employees.

“It’s a domino effect,” Whittle said.

Morris is replacing Wheeler. Current Special Operations Division Capt. Sharif Chochol will replace Morris over CID.

Patrol Division Capt. Butch Askew will transfer to SOD to replace Cho­chol.

Newly-promoted Capt. Andy Shedd will move up to oversee the Patrol Division replacing Askew. The changes will continue down to the newest employees, Whittle
said.

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