Cobb County swears in its 1st African American sheriff

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Today was an historic day in Cobb County. The first African American sheriff has been sworn into office.

Sheriff Craig Owens made his first public appearance at the brand-new Cobb County Public Safety Police Academy.

He spent 30 years with the Cobb County police department, most recently as precinct commander in south Cobb County.

In his first 100 days, he wants to ensure inmates have proper access to medical care.

Since Dec. 2018, Channel 2 Action News has reported on the deaths of 10 inmates. It’s a controversial issue that outgoing Sheriff Neil Warren refused to talk about.

Owens said it’s more important than ever to protect people at the jail because of the pandemic.

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“For the jail purposes, we have to make sure we have enough PPE to issue to our detainees in our facility, as well as our employees. Make sure they have all the PPE. And make sure we’re practicing social distancing as much as we can inside the facility to keep everyone safe,” Owens said.

[RELATED: Hundreds of inmates released from metro jails because of coronavirus outbreaks]

Owens, along with other metro Atlanta sheriff-elects, recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Owens said he was stunned when he got it.

“You really don’t think a lot about it until it hits you,” Owens said. “Honestly, Tom, I don’t know where I got it from.”

All the sheriffs who have tested positive said they felt okay.

“I’m just so blessed right now again that I’m not feeling symptoms,” Owens said. “I’m feeling fine.”

The sheriffs said they just want to spread the message that everyone needs to take the virus seriously.