Sheriff Deese wins statewide award, reflects on tragic year
FORT VALLEY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Almost a year after two Peach County deputies were shot and killed, Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese is being recognized as Georgia’s Sheriff of the Year.
“To be honest, I struggled with it,” Sheriff Deese said about the award. “I still struggle with it.”
The award is difficult for Sheriff Deese, considering it’s a reflection of how he’s dealt with tragedy.
“We were like in a fantasy world, but when you lose two officers, you lose a piece of yourself,” he said.
In Nov. 2016, Deputy Daryl Smallwood and Sgt. Patrick Sondron were shot and killed, leaving Sheriff Deese in an unimaginable position.
“Believe me you never know how lonely it is until you’re faced with those tragedies and so many people are depending on you, looking at you for that guidance, that support,” Sheriff Deese said. “They wanna know that things will be OK, that somebody is in control, that things are gonna be alright.”
In that loneliness, Sheriff Deese found strength.
“You feel a lot better when someone’s got your back, it’s really a team effort,” Sheriff Deese said talking about all the agencies that came to his aid last year. “The trophy goes to one person, that’s simply because there’s only one sheriff and I’m fortunate to be the sheriff in my own community.”
So following the pain, Sheriff Deese stands tall – with our without the trophy.
“The recognition needs to go to these young men and women who are on the streets everyday,” he said.
And in Peach County, being names Georgia’s Sheriff of the Year doesn’t change a thing.
We’ll never be the same internally, but externally people won’t see a difference in us,” Sheriff Deese said. “When they see us out there doing our job, we’re gonna do our job professionally, we’re gonna do what we have to do and we’re gonna go home to our families every night.”
Sheriff Deese, who was elected sheriff in 2005, will be recognized by sheriffs across the state at an even in September.