COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins is speaking out following the news and passing of former Muscogee County Sheriff, Ralph Johnson.
Johnson lost his battle with cancer early Saturday morning in his home state of Tennessee.
Tompkins called Johnson a mentor and change-maker in the sheriff's department.
"I think he invested in us and he stressed the necessity of education, training, and experience. I think often about that," said Tompkins during a Tuesday morning press conference.
Tompkins says she began as a deputy sheriff and moved up the ranks under Johnson's leadership.
Johnson served 26 years altogether as a lieutenant, chief deputy, and nine of those years as county sheriff within Muscogee County.
Johnson was also reigning sheriff for Muscogee County during the controversial and highly-publicized deputy shooting of Kenneth Walker in 2003.
Even during that difficult time, Tompkins says Johnson was able to overcome the situation. She says his legacy and lessons within the department will live forever.
"I think he did a lot for the sheriff's department. He was a good man, a good family man, and was loyal almost to a fault to his family and friends. Certainly, I think those are wonderful characteristics I hope to see us all model," said Tompkins.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
A service is being planned by family in Tennessee while a special memorial is being planned in Columbus around mid-June.