Monday, July 7, 2014
Sgt. Jason Ward is used to being in control. The 39-year-old head of the criminal investigation division of the City of Georgetown Police Department is markedly uncomfortable on the other side of an interview.
A homegrown officer, he graduated from Georgetown High School in ’93, studied at Frances Marion in Florence and then followed his interest in policing.
“I always had an interest in policing,” he says, “so I put in my app and haven’t looked back.” He’s been with GPD since ’97 beginning in the patrol division where he stayed until 2001. He then spent six months in criminal investigations, eight years in narcotics, three years in patrol and street crime before going to CID in 2013 to head up the division of three other investigators.
He is certified in interviewing/interrogation techniques, is a SWAT commander, a major crime scene tech and in less lethal deterrents (such as pepper spray and bean bag).
Under his leadership the GPD had a 61 percent solve rate in 2013. “Thirty-two percent is the national average,” he points out.
Ward says it’s hard to determine a worst experience. “We see so much stuff…. I guess, I don’t know, you pull up on a wreck and it’s someone you went to school with….”
He recalls having to cut a person down who had tried to hang himself. “We saved him.”
He is quite sure of his best experience though. “Solving the two bank robberies here.” The robberies were in February and March he says and the first one gave them enough information to catch the culprits when they committed the second one.
“It’s pretty gratifying to solve a case of this magnitude,” says Ward.
While reaching lieutenant is his next professional goal, he says he intends to “move up through the ranks at GPD to the top.”
In 2013 he was honored by GPD as Officer of the Year. He has also received commendations from the federal DEA for his work with Operation Palmetto Blow as part of a task force that took on Mexican drug cartel trafficking. “We got 10K in cocaine and $300,000 in cash.”
He has worked as an organized crime bureau agent, a city/county task force, and currently serves on the Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU), a combined task force under the 15th Circuit.
When not solving crimes with his colleagues, he and his wife Erica, a school teacher, are busy being parents to their 4-year-old twins Emili Payton and Jase and their Labradoodle, Sammy, 3.
They’re a handful, says Ward, laughing. Sammy is the only pet they have at the moment, he says, because “the four fish died and the kitten went to the in-laws.”
In high school he played basketball and football, and he is an “avid college football fan,” and Clemson is his team. He loves to golf too.
Most of all, though, he likes to spend time with family. “We like to ride the river,” he says of time on the Black River in their motorboat.
“I am the grill master of the house,” he laughs.
Ward also runs a side business cutting grass.
When he and his wife manage to find some time to themselves, they enjoy dinner and a movie, he says.
His life goal is “being the best person I can be. I hope I treat people the way I want to be treated…everything else can take care of itself.”