Celebrating Black History Month has taken on a new meaning for the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Eric J. Levett made history of his own when he took office in 2013 to become Rockdale County’s first African-American Sheriff. Recently, as Sheriff Levett and a few of his staff members drove through a neighborhood in South Rockdale, he shared what it means to be the first African-American elected Sheriff in Rockdale County.
“I’m sure somebody somewhere is saying, ‘Hey, this is a milestone for race relations in Rockdale County,’ but I just see myself as another resident who has taken political office in a profession I have come up in for half of my life,” Levett said.
The life he is speaking of began in Rockdale County where he was born and raised. After graduating from Rockdale County High School, Levett worked as a dispatcher for Rockdale County 9-1-1 where he said he learned self-discipline and a strong work ethic. He has served the citizens of Rockdale County for over 25 years and continues to challenge himself daily. He has worked as a Certified Peace Officer, a Law Enforcement Coordinator for the City of Conyers Housing Authority, Corporal within Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Sergeant in Uniform Patrol and Criminal Investigations Division, Board of Directors-Rockdale Coalition for Children and Families, Chamber of Commerce Leadership Rockdale Program, National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), Vice Chairman of Georgia Piedmont Technical College Law Enforcement Advisory Board, and Resource Development Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club and so many more.
Sheriff Levett is often asked if he realizes just how much his family has contributed to Black History. The entire Levett family adds so much value to Rockdale County and the surrounding areas.
George William Levett, Sr., the Sheriff’s grandfather, established the family’s funeral home business in 1964 that holds the honor of the oldest surviving African-American business in Rockdale County. George Sr. also became the first full-time black police officer for the Conyers Police Department in 1972.
In 2004, Gregory B. Levett, the Sheriff’s uncle, established the only African-American owned and operated funeral home in South Gwinnett County.
George Levett, Jr., the Sheriff’s other uncle, was the first African-American elected Coroner in Rockdale County.
“My grandfather taught all of his children and grandchildren to ‘Always believe in yourself. Apply yourself to reach your goals and there is nothing you can’t achieve. Surround yourself with positive people and stay away from situations that pull you into the wrong direction,’ ” Levett remembers. “Now that I am a parent, I understand the frustrations my father and grandfather had to face while struggling to keep his kids from going down the wrong path,” Levett continues.
George Levett, Sr. chose to make a difference and proved no feat is too great to achieve. Sheriff Levett remembers vying for this top seat, and when he won the election his first thoughts were, ‘Oh my goodness. I won.’ He then began to lay out how he was going to enhance the quality of life in Rockdale County through his leadership and strategic efforts.
Special thanks to George Levett, Sr. for the push to excellence, to Jerome Levett for keeping his son focused, and to Eric Levett for giving all of us the chance to live life as we live it now in Rockdale County.