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Our History

Between these years, H.N. Crawford, W.H. Alderman, E.W. Guerry, Huston M. Varnum, and A.J. Opperman were night watchmen for the campus.

Adam Joseph Opperman was the German caretaker and night watchman for many years. He resigned “during the war years” (most likely WWII) to work with a USO in Augusta. He seemed to be a favorite on campus with students calling him “Uncle Oppie.” He was known for his friendly attitude, his astronomy knowledge, his telescope that he shared with students, and his handmade models of famous locations and scenes.

Taking over from the night watchmen, William Bowen became the first police chief and only police officer at Georgia Southwestern College. He was tasked with hiring more officers over the years. The Public Safety department was housed in the rear of the Administration Building on the 2nd floor before it was renovated.

The Georgia POST Act established the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) which regulates standards and training across law enforcement agencies. Upon its creation, it recognized GSW's Public Safety as a POST certified law enforcement agency.

Public Safety is moved from Administration to Jackson Hall on the 1st floor (currently office space and Herbarium).

Chief Bowen retires after building a 12 officer department and Chief Oris Bryant takes over.

Public Safety moves from Jackson Hall to the basement of Sanford Hall near the Administration building.

Public Safety launches a website designed and coded by Captain Michael Tracy.

Public Safety moves from Sanford Hall to its current position in the old Herschel Smith Health Center.

Captain Michael Tracy replaces Oris Bryant as chief after Bryant passes away from a heart attack.

Officer Jody Smith was killed along with Americus Police Department Officer Nicholas Smarr while he was assisting in a domestic incident just off campus.

The Herschel Smith Public Safety building is renamed to the Nicholas Smarr and Jody Smith Memorial Building in honor of their sacrifice. The GSW Health Clinic receives the Herschel Smith name.
Public Safety created the Anonymous Tip Form on their website for faculty, staff, and students to report crime and concerns anonymously.
Public Safety initiates officer taught classes for faculty, staff, and students beginning with the Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) class.
Friends create T-shirt to honor fallen officer's families in big way. 

Public Safety launches the Alertus App which faculty, staff, and students use to report crime and send emergency alerts from their GSW desktops and phones.

Public Safety launches its drone program.
Public Safety created the Public Safety Class Offerings page on their website so that faculty, staff, and students can request various classes from Public Safety.

Chief Michael Tracy retires.
Sergeant Michael Lewis was named Interim Chief following Michael Tracy's Retirement.

Interim Chief Lewis is promoted to Chief of GSW Public Safety. 


Office of Public Safety

Nicholas Smarr and Jody Smith Memorial Building

229-931-2245 phone
229-931-2711 fax

Sunday - Saturday: 24/7