A veteran law enforcement officer with more than 38 years of experience, Sheriff Butch Conway has served in nearly every capacity of law enforcement. Sheriff Conway began his career in 1973 as an officer with the Gwinnett County Police Department, where he served for eleven years. He rose to the rank of lieutenant and was in charge of the Vice, Intelligence and Narcotics Units before leaving the department to run an office supply business he started in 1981.
During his career, Sheriff Conway served as a magistrate judge for seven years and as the Chief of Police of Lawrenceville for six years. He was elected sheriff in 1996 and is currently serving in his fifth term of office. Under his leadership, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office became one of the first agencies in Georgia to place the Sex Offender Registry on the Internet and was the first sheriff’s office in Georgia to become a state certified law enforcement agency.
Since being elected, Sheriff Conway has seen his office grow from a staff of 320 to over 700. He reinstated the Fugitive Unit to the Field Operations Division in 1997 to apprehend the most dangerous and elusive criminals. In 2009, he established the 287(g) federal immigration program, which allows specially trained deputies to identify and place detainers on illegal immigrants arrested in Gwinnett County, leading to a substantial reduction in the jail population.
Other projects include an expansion of the county jail approved by voters in 2002 and the start of Operation Second Chance – a program that rescues dogs from euthanasia at the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Center, placing them with inmates for obedience training in preparation for adoption to the public. The program is supported by volunteers and donations, operating at no cost to taxpayers. The majority of the cost is funded by its partner, Society of Humane Friends of Georgia. Since its inception in 2010, Operation Second Chance has rescued over 300 dogs. In 2013, the program added cats to the rescue effort and has rescued over 40 cats.
In 2011, Sheriff Conway partnered with the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta to form the Gwinnett Reentry Intervention Program (GRIP). This program strives to reduce jail recidivism by pairing individuals exiting incarceration with community resources to assist them in becoming self-sufficient. GRIP provides them access to resources such as shelter, drug treatment, job skills training, mental health treatment, employment and permanent housing.
Sheriff Conway is dedicated to helping ensure a successful future for our county’s youth. He formed a Gwinnett Chapter of Beat the Heat, Inc., an organization comprised of law enforcement volunteers to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal street racing, drunk driving and drug abuse. Our Beat the Heat deputies visit schools and youth events to share an important message while building a partnership between law enforcement and the community.
Our office also sponsors Explorer Post #699. The Explorer program allows young people the opportunity to explore a career in law enforcement while being mentored by volunteer deputies who instruct them on important topics such as leadership, public speaking and interpersonal skills. Explorer Post #699 has 80 active members, making it one of the largest Explorer groups in the state.
Though his dedication to law enforcement is evident, what is often not so obvious is his dedication to the community. He currently serves on the Executive Board of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, and the Board of Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership. He has also served on the Georgia Sheriff’s Association Legislative Committee, Lawrenceville City Council, Gwinnett County Merit Board, Gwinnett County Airport Authority, Lawrenceville Housing Authority, Drug Free Workplace Committee of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and was a founding director of the Girls Club of Gwinnett and a graduate of Leadership Gwinnett. Growing up in Decatur, Sheriff Conway benefited from being a Cub Scout, Boy Scout and Explorer Scout. He credits those programs with giving him a foundation for service and continues to support those organizations to this day.
Sheriff Conway has two beautiful daughters, Jennifer Conway Clay and Regina Conway Cann, four adorable grandsons, a lovely granddaughter and, in his words, “two great sons-in-law.”