Sunday, June 15, 2014
PO3 James “Shelley” Brantley, 56, of Georgetown is all over town, on and off duty, chatting with folks, helping them out and is a face well known.
No surprise since his job includes Front St. Community Service. Also the animal control officer and an assistant training officer, Brantley has devoted his life to community policing both here and abroad.
Growing up in Jasper County he remembers riding with his uncle – a highway patrolman – when he was four or five years old. “He rode me around in his [patrol] car and that’s probably what perked my interest [in police work].”
Brantley joined the Air Force and worked security police for four years then went back to Jasper County and worked with the Ridgeland Police Department in 1984. From there he went to the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office.
“My wife and I wanted to move and one morning I picked up the Savannah paper and saw a newspaper ad for Georgetown Police Department.
So I rode up here and checked it out, liked what I saw and applied. My wife liked Georgetown…it reminded her of where we were living. The schools were good so I began here in June of 1989…a few months before Hugo.”
Brantley survived his trial by hurricane and raised his family here in Georgetown.
Then, in 2006, he resigned and joined Dyncorp International and went overseas to Afghanistan to train Afghani law enforcement personnel for the U.S. state dept. He did that for two years. In 2008 he came home for a break and met GPD’s Chief Paul Gardner.
“He told me to apply and I did and he hired me when I came back in ’08. It was like starting over.”
He was hired back at the bottom rank and, again, worked his way up to lieutenant before retiring in 2011.
He then went to work for the county sheriff’s department for a year. Then, in August 2012, the position he currently holds opened up and he came back to GPD, again, starting at the bottom.
He is a certified Field Training Officer, firearms instructor, Taser instructor, armorer, concealed weapons safety instructor, certified in community services, patrol supervision, domestic violence, radar/lidar, pepper spray, emergency operations incident command, street survival, gangs, elder abuse, child abuse, FTO management, and Verbal Judo (dealing with confrontational situations and interviewing skills), combat first aid, CPR and combat lifesaving skills. He’s also on the boat team.
In short, he’s a guy you want in your corner when it all goes wrong.
His worst experience, he says, was the night Major Spencer Guerry was shot and killed.
“I was off duty with my wife and a fellow officer and his wife when he heard it on the vehicle radio.
He said ‘Spence was shot’ and I tossed my wife the car keys and we took off to help.”
His best experiences have been helping children. “You go to a call and there’s a child affected [by whatever the incident is] …have had that several times.”
“I just like helping the community, I live here and treat people as I want to be treated.”
His professional goal, he laughs, is to retire one more time…for good.
“If I can do that I will be happy as a pig in the moonshine!”
He and his wife Brenda, a clerk as the GCSO, have raised three children – Jesse, 31; Jennifer, 30 and James, 26 – and are proud grandparents of Jackson, 2.
They have no dogs now but his wife, he stresses, has two cats.
He loves fishing, all fishing, fresh water, shore and deep water and all hunting.
He also loves target shooting.
His wife enjoys target shooting as well “and she probably shoots better than me.”
He enjoys watching NASCAR and loves to cook. “My wife says I do [cook] certain things alright.”
Having grown up on a farm, he says he used to enjoy gardening but doesn’t do much anymore. Instead they spend their time visiting their kids and grandson, going out to dinner and to the beach at Huntington Beach. They also enjoy camping.
He used to enjoy motorcycling but after an accident early on that damaged his leg, he has given that up.
He and his wife have traveled to Germany and Austria and he has been all over the U.S., Guam and Mexico with the military.
His life goal, he says, has been met.
“It’s to raise a good family and I’ve done that…I’ve done just about everything I wanted to do so hopefully when my last retirement comes, I will be in good shape to do more stuff!”