Condensed History of the Fulton County Sheriff’s V.I.P.E.R. Operations
Research did not uncover the formation date of the organization, its initial commander, strength, rank structure and divisions. However, it was learned that before the organization became the Reserve Unit that we know today, it was formed as a Sheriff’s Posse. This group of individuals assisted mostly in search and rescue efforts, civic and other non-law enforcement roles.
By 1991, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Unit was comprised of over 350 active sworn reserve deputies. Those deputies volunteered their time to serve the citizens of Fulton County and to supplement the full-time deputies of the agency. This Reserve Unit was the largest law enforcement reserve unit in Georgia. Its members received the same training as the full-time regular deputies and was held to the same professional standards by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (P.O.S.T.).
At that time, the Reserve Unit was comprised of five main divisions to support the Sheriff’s Office and the community. Those divisions were: Four-Wheel Drive, Motorcycle, Horse, Foot Patrol and Correction. Deputies desiring to serve in one of the first three divisions had to personally provide their four-wheel drive vehicle, motorcycle and horse (with horse trailer). The vehicles were outfitted with the appropriate law enforcement hardware and equipment, such as decals, lights and siren, at the owner’s expense.
This early Reserve Unit also had an elite 20-member Special Emergency Response Team (S.E.R.T.) and a 26-member search and rescue all-terrain vehicle (ATV) team. The Reserve Unit had 70 four-wheel drive vehicles, 50 motorcycles, 20 horses, six patrol vehicles, two mobile communications command centers, one communications van with its own radio repeater system, one rescue SUV, one drug awareness bus and 53 ATVs.
S.E.R.T. was created in 1988 to provide a tactical team for the Democratic Convention and initially consisted of 13 members. The team remained intact after the Convention and then began to work alongside members of the Atlanta Police Department’s Red Dog unit until 1992.
Besides the regular community service events, members of the Reserve Unit were called into service during several emergencies. Some of those included the Rodney King riots, Freak-Nik riots, March on Forsyth and a few others. These dedicated deputies also assisted with several large events in Atlanta, such as official visits by Presidents H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, the 1996 Olympics and several other major events.
In 2017, the Reserve Unit was comprised of two groups of individuals who were desirous of supporting the Sheriff’s Office. The first group consisted of sworn, state certified reserve deputies and the second, retirees who once served as sworn full-time deputies of the Sheriff’s Office. In January 2021, both sections merged under a single umbrella, V.I.P.E.R. Operations.
Today’s organization has nearly 200 members who average over 18,000 hours of service to the community each year. It provides security for community events, conducts massive cell searches at the Fulton County Jail, serves civil papers, executes arrest warrants, and provides security for the courts.
To support its current mandate, V.I.P.E.R. Operations is divided into four main divisions, namely: Field Operations, OPS, Retiree Operations, and Administrative Operations. For more information, please click on the link for the page entitled “Reserve Divisions”, at the top of our website’s home page.
Each year, deputies of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office V.I.P.E.R. Operations continue to provide law enforcement coverage for a host of civic activities. Historically, our deputies provide security, escort and/or traffic control duties while working the following special events and several others: Martin Luther King Parade, Old Savior’s Day Motorcade, Black History Month Parade, Atlanta Zoo Beastly Feast, , Juneteenth Parade, Summerhill Parade, Fulton County Sheriff’s Office Homeless Initiative, Pittsburgh Community Parade, Fulton County Sheriff’s Office Annual Youth H.Y.P.E. Conference, Morris Brown Homecoming Parade, Clark Atlanta/Morehouse Homecoming Parade, Christmas Kwanzaa Parade, AFD 16 Holiday Community Party, Party for Special Citizens, and Helping Hands International.
During its formative years, the Reserve Unit was led by Major Richard H. Davis. Today, in its current role as V.I.P.E.R. Operations, it is led by Lt. Colonel Samuel Johnson who serves as the Commander and Major James Anderson, as the Assistant Commander. They are aided by four Captains: Captain Bobby Stewart, Captain Gregory Stewart, Captain Elbert Carter, and Captain Adrian Stubbs.