Career GBI agent taking reins of Perry office has Warner Robins ties

WARNER ROBINS -- Rodney Wall, the new special agent in charge of the regional GBI office in Perry, said he knew in high school the agency was the life for him.

“That was my goal, and I stuck with it,” said Wall, who got to know a lot of law enforcement officers growing up in Schley County with relatives in police work. “I just saw it as one of the premier state law enforcement agencies.”

Wall has been with the GBI for 22 years.

He also has ties to Warner Robins, having served as a Warner Robins police officer before joining the GBI and having met his wife at the police department.

Wall, 46, previously served as the special agent in charge of the Columbus regional office. He replaces Gary Rothwell who retired recently.

Wall, who was on hand at the Perry office during the transition, officially assumed command Aug. 1.

With the coverage areas of the Perry and Columbus offices next to each other, Wall and Rothwell previously worked together.

In his new role, Wall oversees an annual budget of about $770,000 and a staff of nine. The regional office’s coverage area includes Ben Hill, Bibb, Crawford, Dooly, Houston, Irwin, Peach, Turner, Twiggs and Wilcox counties.

With his sights set on the GBI early on, Wall decided to gain law enforcement experience. He worked as a part-time jailer and deputy at the Schley County jail. He also received his cadet training at the Columbus Police Department while attending college.

Wall was hired by the Warner Robins Police Department in 1989 and worked there as police officer for a year-and-a-half before landing a special agent post at the GBI in September 1990.

He was assigned to the regional Dublin office, which was subsequently moved to Eastman, where he served as a crime scene investigation specialist for about 10 years.

Wall was promoted to assistant special in agent in charge of the regional GBI office in Americus in 2000. In 2007, he was promoted to special agent in charge of the regional Greenville office, which later was relocated to Columbus.

Wall is a bomb technician. He also serves on the GBI’s multi-jurisdictional Georgia Body Recovery Team, which responds to mass disasters.

For example, Wall and fellow team members were dispatched in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to help with body recovery in Gulfport, Miss.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in public administration from Columbus State University.

His wife, Vanessa Wall, was a police officer when they met. They have been married 22 years. She’s now the dean for the Homeland Security Academic Programs at South Georgia Technical College in Americus.

The Walls make their home in Ellaville, his hometown. They have a son in eighth grade and a daughter in college. The couple also raised his nephew, who is now a diplomatic security agent for the U.S. Department of State.

Being a little closer to home was part of the reason Rodney Wall said he sought the new assignment.

“I know a lot of the people, I’m familiar with the area, and it’s a different challenge,” he said.

Lanny Cox, a crime scene investigation specialist at the Columbus office who worked with Wall, described him as true professional, great investigator and hard worker.

“When something difficult comes up, that’s who you go to,” said Cox, a 21-year career agent who has known Wall since 1994.

Among Wall’s strengths is his ability to work well with people both as a supervisor and in dealing with the public.

“He’s just one of those guys you like being around. He’s really friendly and he knows what he’s doing. ... We didn’t want to lose him,” Cox said. “But he’ll do a great job there, too.”

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.