‘Nothing but excellent work:’ SCSO honors outgoing chief deputy

Published 10:00 am Friday, November 16, 2018

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – A standing-room-only crowd at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Training Center on Nov. 15 served as a testament to the impact Chief Deputy Chris George has had on the county during his more than 21 years with the agency.

During an often-emotional ceremony, George’s fellow law enforcement officers, family members and friends he has made over the years said farewell to the longtime mainstay at the SCSO, as George is retiring and taking an intelligence position with the United States Marshals.

For a generation of leaders at the Sheriff’s Office, George has served as a shining example of professional, efficient and effective law enforcement work.

“During my time at the Sheriff’s Office, our goal was to develop the very finest people in any law enforcement agency in the state. Chris showed all the abilities he had in the way he approached everything that he did,” said former Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry. “When we went to Chris George and said ‘We’ve got an operation we need to conduct and we’ve got to have an ops plan,’ you always got an absolute top-notch quality product.”

George has a wealth of experience at every level of law enforcement. After graduating from Ramsay High School in Birmingham in 1991, George served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1991-1995, where he saw combat in Somalia before coming to the SCSO in 1997 as a corrections officer. He was promoted to SCSO deputy in 1999 before joining the agency’s Tactical Response Unit in 2004 and then moving from patrol to the Criminal Investigation Division in 2004.

In 2004, he and SCSO Sgt. Tim Billingsley, who was hired the same day as George, resurrected the department’s Honor Guard unit. In 2005, George was promoted to sergeant and moved back to the patrol division, and was promoted to lieutenant in 2006.

From there, George was named a team leader with the TRU in 2007, and commander of the unit in 2009. He graduated from the FBI National Academy and was named commander of the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force later in 2009 before being promoted to captain and taking command of the CID. In 2015, George was promoted to chief deputy by current Sheriff John Samaniego.

“Being able to grow up in law enforcement with a friend like Chris George has been a privilege,” Billingsley said. “We got real emotional today, as it should be, because this is a time of rejoicing for your new career.”

During the ceremony, several of George’s family members and fellow law enforcement officers shared stories of how he has impacted them during his time at the SCSO. Samaniego presented George with a decorative wooden display case containing a certificate of recognition, the distinctions he earned while at the SCSO and the items he used every day, such as his duty pistol, badge and handcuffs.

George praised Curry and Samaniego for their mentorship over the years, and for trusting him with an ever-increasing level of responsibility.

“Sheriff Curry, thank you for your wisdom, your mentorship and the things you’ve done for me throughout the years,” George said. “I would not be where I am today (without Curry and Samaniego). You talk about people in your life who have had an impact. You two have a big chunk in this house we’ve been building over the years, and I’m very grateful for that. I appreciate the last four years you allowing me to be your chief deputy.

“To my brothers in uniform, I’ll say this: Stay frosty and remember that when the time to perform has come, the time to prepare has passed,” George added. “You’re the defenders of freedom. I’ll remind you that as you train and you get ready for that fight that somewhere the enemy is training harder than you. I don’t want you to fight to survive. I want you to fight to win.”

Samaniego said George will leave a lasting legacy at the SCSO.

“Every job I ever asked him to do, he did it, never questioned it and did an excellent job. I’m very thankful for that, Chris. Nothing but excellent work your entire career,” Samaniego said, praising George for obtaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees while working at the SCSO. “Personally, Chris, I’d like to thank you for everything you did for the citizens, everything you did for the agency and everything you did for me.

“You want to give opportunity to people who want to accept that opportunity and excel,” Samaniego added. “I tried to mentor him along the way and give him the opportunities that Sheriff Curry and I both knew he would fit into. Every time we gave him that opportunity, he excelled. He is a man of excellent character and integrity, and we’re going to miss you, brother, more than you know.”