Sheriff James Hale said he feels like a product of now-retired Sheriff Scott Berry.

“I think his legacy is going to be here for a long time,” said Hale. “I think everyone here at the Sheriff’s Office is a product of that.” 

Born and raised in Oconee County, Hale is the grandson of John Hale and Mary Hardigree, a joining of two old bloodlines in the area. He was raised on a four-mile tract of land known jokingly to locals as Haleville.

After graduating Oconee County High School, Hale joined the U.S. Army as a communications specialist. He served as a paratrooper first at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and later at Fort Benning, Georgia. 

When he left the Army, Hale returned home to Oconee and subsequently married Michelle Link, the daughter of Station 1 Fire Chief Mike Link.

Hale left his job at the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office for a position in Oconee in February of 2000, where he’s worked ever since.

While serving as a captain with the Sheriff’s Office, he graduated from the FBI National Academy in 2018.

Now that there’s a transition in leadership, many may be wondering about one of the Sheriff Office’s notable outreach arms, the “Oconee County Georgia Sheriff’s Office” Facebook page. 

“I think there’s a happy medium between getting information out to people and the levity that goes along with that,” Hale said. “If you can’t make fun of yourself, you’re doing the wrong kind of work.” 

He did qualify that the page may need some taming down, but it’s not going anywhere. 

“It’s definitely something that’s here to stay,” he said. “We want to do it in a way that’s palatable to everybody and that keeps the agency at the forefront of our minds.”

For more on this story, see the Jan. 7 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website. 


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