WARNER ROBINS -- The fatal shooting of high school classmate and sheriffs deputy Danny Ray Jr. by a Houston County jail inmate was the fire that lit underneath for Alan Everidge to make the step into law enforcement.
Everidge, 46, a 25-year veteran of the Houston County Sheriffs Office, recently stepped into the role of jail administrator at the Houston County jail. He was promoted to the rank of major.
In 1986, the year Ray was killed during the inmates escape attempt, Everidge was working for Greyhound transportation as his father had before him. But Everidge said he already was feeling the tug toward public service having served as a volunteer Houston County firefighter.
The May 10, 1986, death of Ray, who served one year as a sheriffs deputy before he was shot and killed by an inmate hed shared pizza with the night before, was a defining moment for Everidge.
He knew he wanted to have a career in which he felt like he was making a difference.
By the end of that year, Everidge had landed a job with Warner Robins police where he began his law enforcement career. He joined the sheriffs office the following year. Hes since served in most divisions including patrol, juvenile investigations, criminal investigations and warrants. He served 15 years on the sheriffs response team, a tactical unit.
But this is the first time hes served in the jail. It is not the first time hes ran a division. He was head of the warrant division before assuming his new role Aug. 6.
Managing people is managing people, Everidge said.
He also noted the expertise of his staff to draw on.
As the jail administrator, Everidge oversees a $12 million budget, 156 employees and a changing jail population that was at 489 inmates Thursday. The 10-year-old jails capacity is 666 inmates.
He said hes not planning in any major overhauls. He and Capt. Beth Shafer, second in command at the jail, are reviewing jail policies that may need minor tweaking to make sure theyre up to jail standards.
For Everidge, the jail is a nearly self-contained community or small city with its own kitchen, laundry and medical facilities.
Its his job to ensure inmates are fed, clothed and watched over in a humane way in the most efficient manner possible, he said.
Everidge noted working in the jail is demanding.
You got to get tough, he said. This is not a job for the faint of heart. Its just as hard as being an investigator or patrol officer or a 911 operator.
Every person has a spoke in the wheel of the criminal justice system.
Serving in law enforcement also means time away from family, Everidge said. Its also hard on friendships, and some people just dont like police officers, he said.
If youre going into law enforcement, its got to be a career -- not a job, Everidge said.
As jail administrator, Everidge earns a salary of about $70,000.
In his previous role overseeing a staff of 25 people in the warrant division, Everidge usually came in a little before 8 a.m. and left at 5 p.m. He rarely got calls at home.
In his new job with all its responsibilities, hes in at 5:30 or 6 a.m. and leaves anywhere from 5 to 8 p.m.
I like a challenge, what can I say? Everidge said.
Sheriff Cullen Talton said hes confident Everidge can more than meet the challenge.
Wherever I put him, hes always done an excellent job, Talton said. Hes just got that knack about him dealing with people.
Everidge holds an associate degree in criminal justice from Central Georgia Technical College, a bachelors degree in criminal justice from American Intercontinental University and a masters degree in public administration with an emphasis in criminal justice from Columbus State University.
He received his Command College Certificate from Georgia Law Enforcement Command College. He also is a September 2002 graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.