Joe Nathan Cephus Jr., a 23-year-old product of Swainsboro, has been named Hinesville Police Department’s Rookie of the Year. He received the award last Friday, April 30.
A police officer since 2019, Cephus is following in his parents’ footsteps in living a life of service. His father, Joe Cephus Sr., previously worked for Swainsboro Police Department and is currently a sergeant for Wadley Police Department while his mother, Tanya Cephus, previously worked in adult corrections.
Cephus graduated with honors from Swainsboro High School in 2016. While in high school, he was a member of the Band of Gold and served two years as drum major. He also participated in many clubs at SHS and was a manager/coach’s assistant for Alexandra Walden’s Lady Tiger basketball program. Today, he is attending the University of Phoenix to obtain his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration.
When asked why he wanted to become a police officer, Cephus explained it was simply something he has always wanted to do, even as a child.
“In 2019, I saw the importance of going after my dream and being an example for young boys and girls who look like me,” he said. “Hinesville PD was one of the few agencies at the time that was willing to send me to the police academy, which I graduated from in September 2019.”
To date, Cephus holds the following certifications: basic juvenile corrections, basic jailor, and basic law enforcement officer. He is three classes away from having his intermediate law enforcement officer certification.
In regard to working for Hinesville Police Department, Cephus said, “I like that the military base is here, and I get to deal with different people and cultures. My supervisors here at Hinesville PD are aware of my goals and push me to reach those goals by sharing their knowledge and experience with me every day.”
However, he admits he would love to come back to Swainsboro someday and serve his home community in a leadership position.
In regard to the Rookie of the Year Award, Cephus offered the following statement: “I received the award last week. To me, it means my peers recognized the hard work I’ve put in on a daily basis for the past almost two years, and I know God is ordering my steps and opening doors that I never thought were possible!”
Hinesville Police Department publicized Cephus’ winning the award on Facebook on Friday afternoon. Part of the post read, “Since joining the department in June of 2019, Officer Cephus has done an outstanding job on the road and with the department’s honor guard team. His knowledge of the job as a new officer is impressive. Officer Cephus can be counted on to get the job done and do it correctly. Hinesville Police Department has a bright future with officers like him patrolling our city.”
Prior to joining HPD, Cephus worked as a corrections officer with Chatham County Sheriff’s Office. He has also worked with Claxton RYDC.
In closing, Cephus has a short but special message to a specific audience back home who read this. He said, “To any young person who has a dream, put it in God’s hands and watch Him work it out.”