As Officer Joe Owens walked out of the building on Thursday afternoon, Deandre Smith met him at the door with a handshake, a hug and a gift card.
Smith wasn’t going to let the Glynn County Schools Police Officer’s last day on the job at Golden Isles Elementary School go unnoticed. Himself a sworn officer who works at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Smith is grateful to have had a good cop like Owens to protect his two daughters and the rest of the students on campus at 6045 Altama Ave. in Brunswick.
“He’s just a nice guy, very genuine,” Owens said. “He makes sure the children are all safe. We all really appreciate it.
When Smith stepped out for the final detail of his 34-year career, it marked the end of another chapter in a local law enforcement saga that dates back more than 120 years. Great-great-grandfather John Owens’ start on the Brunswick Police in 1898 launched an unbroken line of local law enforcement officers in the Owens clan that ended Friday with the control of traffic outside Golden Isles Elementary.
Between John and Joe, there have been three sheriffs from Glynn County and a chief of police from Brunswick. Early on, Joe Owens heard the call to serve and protect in the tradition of his ancestors who walked before him.
“I’ve had a long history of up to par with law enforcement,” said Owens, 65. “I had it in my family, so the desire was strong. It kind of drew me to law enforcement. I wanted to fill those shoes. And I know they’re great shoes to step into. .
Law enforcement proved to be a good fit for Owens. He started as a young man with the Glynn County Police Department in 1979 and remained there for nearly three years. After a nearly decade-long hiatus, Owens returned to law enforcement as a deputy in the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office in 1990. He retired in 2021 after more than 20 years as a sheriff.
But Owens wouldn’t stay away from law enforcement for long.
He joined the county school system police force in January 2012.
Owens remained on duty as a school cop until the last parent and child left Golden Isles Elementary School on Friday.
“Joe Owens has a servant’s heart and treats people with respect,” County Schools Police Chief Rod Ellis said. “He’s the kind of law enforcement officer who epitomizes the term peace officer. He has reached the finish line of a decades-long career and the conclusion of a family legacy that spans more than a century in County Glynn. I wish him all the best and he will be missed.
Principal Tracy Reyna said Owens’ retirement ends a family tradition also at Golden Isles Elementary School. Owens’ wife, Anne, works in the school cafeteria and her twin brother Johnny is a teacher there. Not to be outdone, grandchildren Blake and Holden are students at the school. But Owens will be deeply missed by all students and staff.
“What’s so good about Joe is that whatever you ask him, he gladly does,” Reyna said. “And he has such a good relationship with the kids. It’s like a family. »
Family ties are strong and deep with Owens. It dates back to the arrival of great-grandfather Patrick Owens in the neighboring Darien of Ireland in the 1880s. The legacy of family law enforcement which began with John Owens’ passage to the turn of the century at the Brunswick Police Department was sued by his two sons. George M. Owens started with the city police department in 1905, but ended his law enforcement career with a 12-year stint as county sheriff that ended in 1947. His brother, Robert Eugene Owens, served in Brunswick from 1905 to 1929, the last 21 years as chief of police.
Additionally, Joe Owens’ grandfather, Mitchell E. Owens, served as sheriff here for 21 years, ending in 1968. Great-uncle Harry W. Owens took him from there, serving as sheriff from 1968 to 1976.
Joe Owens’ three adult daughters have all found different callings, making their dad a proud dad all the same. However, there are these grandchildren. A new chapter in the Owens family’s law enforcement tale may well be waiting in the next generation.
“That would be nice,” Joe Owens said.
Then he put on his yellow safety vest and walked down the middle of busy Altama Avenue. There, he kept order once more as a stream of traffic-slowing parents inside and outside honked their horns, waved their hands and offered joyful shouts to a law enforcement legend. order.
“He is finishing a distinguished career protecting the staff and students of Glynn County,” Ellis said. “I can’t think of a more noble and fitting role for Joe or the Owens legacy than that.”