One Square Mile: Kingston, Georgia

Photograph by Dustin Chambers
Photograph by Dustin Chambers

Kingston, Georgia | 55 miles northwest of Atlanta

The police chief has several guns, including a 12-gauge shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle, but he almost never puts them to use. “This is the modern Mayberry,” says T.J. Sosebee, the only full-time officer in Kingston, population 646, a hidden Bartow County village on a narrow plain between Cartersville and Rome. The chief’s job was vacant for most of last fall, leaving the town with no police department, and in the ensuing anarchy, someone kicked in the doors of the restrooms by the baseball field. Sosebee started work in early December, and the rest of 2014 passed without serious incident. A woman called 911 because her father was choking on a peanut butter sandwich, but the man fell down and dislodged the obstruction before Sosebee arrived. He caught a woman driving 72 in a 40 zone. He did not catch the thief who made off with two large bottles of Coke from Dollar General, but he was pretty sure he knew who it was. There was no need for a SWAT raid. He walked around town, Tic Tacs rattling softly in his pocket, waving to men in pickup trucks. Around Christmastime, he got a call about stolen electricity. A man had his power cut off, so he plugged an extension cord into a neighbor’s outlet to keep the heater going. He was sorry. Sosebee could have arrested him, but he wrote a citation instead. On New Year’s Eve, he cruised the streets and found people worshiping in churches and drinking peacefully in the town’s only bar. Around 9:30 p.m. on Reynolds Bridge Road, a man hit a deer. The man and his truck were all right, but the chief looked down at that 45-pound doe and knew she was suffering. The chief has many responsibilities, some prescribed by law, others simply understood. He took aim with his pistol and pulled the trigger.

This article originally appeared in our March 2015 issue.