October 29, 2012

Candidate profile: Langford has wanted to be sheriff since sixth grade

Gary Langford says 24 years in office is long enough for the current sheriff. The people are ready for a change, he says.

Langford is running as a Republican against incumbent Murray County Sheriff Howard Ensley, a Democrat, on Nov. 6. It is Langford’s first bid for elective office. He received 57.92 percent of the vote in the July GOP primary runoff to Wyle Keith Pritchett’s 42.08 percent. Ken Smith was pushed out of the initial primary vote with 15.24 percent of the vote to Langford’s 49.79 percent and Pritchett’s 34.97 percent. Candidates must have 50 percent of the vote plus one to avoid a runoff.

A veteran law officer, Langford worked 38 years before retiring, spending most of his time at the Georgia State Patrol but also with stints at the Chatsworth Police Department and Murray County Sheriff’s Office. He currently works part time at the Murray County Senior Center driving a bus.

Langford said he began his law enforcement career at 18 years old and was certified as a police officer in 1976. He later went to the state patrol’s trooper school, graduating in 1988. The 1973 Murray County High School graduate said he began working at the Chatsworth Police Department in 1974 as a radio operator/communications officer, then went to the Georgia Police Academy and became a patrol officer. He said he was involved in providing security for several high profile events while he was with the state patrol: the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta in 1988, the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the G8 summit in 2004 in Savannah.

“I just feel that I’m the better candidate,” Langford said.

Langford said he first knew he wanted to be involved in law enforcement back in sixth grade when he was attending Chatsworth Elementary School. A school crossing guard at the time, Langford said he remembers an incident in which one of the students almost got run over. Someone called the sheriff, and the sheriff came to chase down the perpetrator.

“I looked at one of my fellow students with me and said, ‘That’s what I want to do when I grow up,’” he said. “It’s just always been a lifelong dream of mine.”

A member of Holly Creek Baptist Church, Langford is married to Delaine and has two grown daughters and one 7-year-old (Christy Capeheart, Lauren Langford and Mallory Langford), one grandson, one granddaughter and one great-granddaughter.

Langford said he has some “major concerns” with issues that law enforcement faces in Murray County, including drugs.

“I think there is a huge drug problem in Murray County. It needs to be addressed,” he said. “You will never stop drugs, but you can put a dent into drugs ... if you work it and stay on it 365 days a year, I think you can curtail it.”

He said he wants to strengthen the sheriff’s office’s K-9 program to help address the drug problems and work to get deputies more training. He said he also wants to concentrate on reducing the number of burglaries and look at enhancing the department’s school resource officer program. Training will be key in achieving all of these things, he said.

“A lot of the training is free,” he added. “I think the more that you do on that, the better sheriff’s department you would have.”

Langford’s phone number is (706) 695-0244, and his email address is harliebob@windstream.net.

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