Unique, I usually don’t start a story with a word like this, unique. What’s unique about this man I’ve chosen to feature this week? Much.
Richmond Hill Police Department Jason Sakelarios is unique for many reasons, his strengths and capabilities, talents, achievements and qualities, which he shares so willingly with others.
He stands out. This is a man who is a natural leader. He thrives on influencing and training his officers, enforcing the law, preventing crimes, responding to emergencies and providing support services.
As I began interviewing for this article I went back to an earlier piece I wrote in May of 2021 titled ‘Why Georgene B. writes what she writes’. I explained my goal is sharing those I write about, those I introduce from a viewpoint of empathy, honesty, leadership, determination with you, the reader. I need to interview not just those the articles are about, but interview others about them, to be able to show the importance of their achievements, their personalities, the essence of them. Even achievements that affect many, had I not written about them, would never have been known. And, so it is with this man, who is second in command of the Richmond Hill Police Department.
Major Sakelarios explains his work by saying “Actively having done it all, I feel I can teach it all well. Been there done that.”
He has held almost every position in policing; patrol officer, traffic enforcement officer, patrol shift supervisor, detective, training officer, administrative services division commander, criminal investigations division commander, patrol division commander.
From serving in the Army to the professional certifications he has obtained, Jason has enhanced his experience and practical application to advantage his officers.
“Action is the foundational key to all success.” Pablo Picasso Whomever I speak to about him points out powerful characteristics, his attention to detail, his listening, persuasiveness, physical stamina, critical thinking, communication, interaction and concern for the community he serves.
Recently he was selected to go to Israel on an intensive two week public leadership training with the country’s top police executives. He trained alongside Georgia police chiefs, command staff, sheriffs, the director of the Georgia Peace Officers Standards, Training Council and a Georgia Bureau of Investigation assistant director through the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) peer-topeer executive training program in partnership with the Israeli Police. He was shown best practices and the latest technologies in policing and public safety. The delegation was led by GILEE Founding Director Dr. Robbie Friedmann.
Dr. Friedmann told me he found Jason studious, a man who absorbed information, was respectful, deeply interested with a good sense of comradery and with good observation skills. He experienced a variety of police units, logistics, cyber investigating, the Supreme Court., and more. He traveled from the Golan Heights to Eilat, observed prison service, police service and public safety.
Major Sakelarios said of this trip that “This experience was nothing short of phenomenal. This trip was both professionally and personally rewarding.”
When his wife, Shannon, and I talked about Jason, her first comment was he’s hard working and that she worries about him when he’s on the job. “This is a man who feels a need to reach goals,” she said.
She urged him to get his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Jason went on to get a masters in Public Safety Administration and many certifications after the Police Academy. He serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Ogeechee Technical College teaching two or three classes a quarter. During our conversation Shannon reflected for a moment then said, “This is a man who loves to teach, loves public speaking.”
She went on to tell me that for him it’s people who matter.
“He is color blind. When there were riots, Black Lives Matter around the country, he continued to be a help mate, a rock, a team mate, a lover of people and his officers, a man who spoke at one of the black churches in Richmond Hill to show support. He is strong emotionally, people are able to come to him”.
Richmond Hill is a family where all are heard and cared about. Toby Hanson is a co-owner of 17 South Rod & Gun Club. He spoke with me of Jason’s involvement in the Martial Arts Ogeechee Grappling Club for over 10 years which Toby runs.
“I’m always amazed at how hard he works training. He’s one of the toughest guys I know. He’s polite, humble, tough as nails. He fights guys bigger, heavier. He has an unreal work ethic. He brings officers to train. For him, self defense, restraining individuals without hurting them is important. He trains two times a week, always listening for police calls while training. He truly cares. He’s in his job for the right reason, to do his part. He has become my friend. He is a true professional”.
Ruben Acosta, a Richmond Hill Police Officer who has worked with Jason for 14 years, phrased working with him interestingly. He said to me, “We’ve been together for 14 years.”
A far more intimate, closer way of stating working together –saying “been together. “
Acosta continued: “He’s always willing to help others. He puts himself to the side, always has an open door policy to all under him. He wants us all to succeed, he’s there to prepare us in this career. He connects with people more than just professionally. He creates a family atmosphere to further relationships. He studies people to try to know what they’re about”.
Sean Register, former chairman of the Development Authority of Bryan County, about whom I’ve written, says “Jason is one of the smartest people I ever met. He is the ultimate law enforcement officer who loves the community. He is a fantastic person.”’ Jason told me “We met at breakfast one day and have been talking, sharing opinions and ideas ever since.”
Ray Fowler, a captain with the Police Department, told me he’s known the Major since the beginning of his career about 20 years ago.
“Who I am as a police officer, how to police, it came from him.” Mitch Shores, the police chief expressed how Jason genuinely cares, is loyal to the city and helps make the department feel like a family.
“Jason is well educated, intentional about his work, always gives and teaches others to give the right impression.”
This is a determined man with a passion, almost stubbornness, to help others. This is an assertive man, always learning, sharing, teaching his officers a better way to work out excessive challenges as part of the process that leads to success. Thank you, Jason, for how you’ve chosen to share and live your life, handle different situations to enrich your position with the police, community, family, to enrich all you touch and effect in Richmond Hill. A most unique man. I am proud to know you, and to call you a friend, Georgene.
Georgene Brazer is chairwoman of the Richmond Hill Downtown Development Authority and a Ford resident. She can be reached at georgenebrazer@ gmail.com.