When Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers leaves his position to his successor on Dec. 31, he will head back to where he began his career.
Summers, who is retiring after 22 years as sheriff, has taken an unranked deputy job at the Walker County Sheriff's Office in the court services division, where he hopes to finish his law enforcement career away from the stresses of being sheriff.
"It was my time to retreat from politics," Summers said. "I'm looking forward to getting back to the basics."
The 58-year-old from Rossville began his career under Walker County Sheriff Ralph Jones in 1975. He transferred to Catoosa County five years later. There he spent 32 years working in a number of positions but mostly in administrative roles.
At the beginning of the year, Summers will began drawing a pension with the Sheriffs' Retirement Fund of Georgia, and he will be eligible for the county pension in 18 months when he turns 591/2. While his salary hasn't been set in Walker County, Sheriff Steve Wilson said Summers will make between $14.25 and $17 per hour based on his experience.
In his new position, Summers will help with courtroom security, transporting prisoners and serving warrants. He said the position will take time to get used to but he doesn't think it will be difficult to relinquish control and work under another person's authority.
The two sheriffs have been friends for more than 30 years, and Wilson and Summers had discussed the retiring sheriff's still wanting to be in law enforcement when he left Catoosa County. After the November election, when Summer's chief deputy, Gary Sisk, was elected sheriff, Wilson offered Summers a job.
"You can't hide the fact that we're very close friends," Wilson said. "He didn't want to retire and go home, and he felt like he had a lot of years left to give back."
Wilson said he looks forward to Summers bringing his experience and background to his office. Even so, Summers had to complete standard hiring procedures by taking a polygraph exam and undergoing a background check. If all goes well, Wilson said, Summers will begin work in Walker on Jan. 7.
Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6659.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...