A resident of Fulton County, Georgia for more than 40 years, Richard Lankford has a 25 year history as a Deputy Sheriff. He moved successfully through the ranks of the Sheriff’s Department, and in 1981 attained the rank of Captain, thereby becoming the highest ranking African American within the department.
In 1984, Richard ran a successful campaign for Sheriff and on January 1, 1985, was sworn in by Georgia Governor Joe Frank Harris as the High Sheriff of Fulton County, becoming the first African American to be elected Sheriff in the history of the State of Georgia.
In 1988, he won a decisive and monumental re-election against three political opponents, gathering an astounding 81% of the total votes cast and receiving more cross-over votes than any other candidate in any county-wide election in the entire State of Georgia.
As Fulton County Sheriff, he commanded a staff in excess of (900) employees, operated the largest county jail facility in the State of Georgia, planned, implemented and supervised a departmental budget of approximately 50 million dollars, developed one of the largest and most respected Reserve Law Enforcement Organizations in the United States and served as the Chief Administrator for all of the divisions within the Sheriff’s Department.
His additional experience includes his employment for nine years as an instructor for the off-campus division of the Atlanta Area Technical School, specializing in State Certified Security Training and Firearms Instruction for armed personnel and Laws of Arrest & Criminal Procedure for unarmed personnel.
As a law enforcement officer, he is Certified by the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council, holding “active status” in good standing. Additionally, Richard is a graduate of:
- The United States Department of Justice – National Institute of Corrections
- The North Central Georgia Law Enforcement Academy
- The Georgia Police Academy
- The Indiana Law Enforcement Academy
- The 1984 Sheriff’s Elect Academy
As a public servant, Richard has been a member of:
• The Atlanta Baptist Minister’s Union
• The Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta
• The NAACP
• The National Sheriff’s Association
• The Georgia Sheriff’s Association
• The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
• The American Correctional Association
• The Georgia Jail Manager’s Association
• The Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials
• The Atlanta Metropol
• The Conference of Minority Public Administrators
• The Kiwanis Club of Atlanta
He has also served on the Board of Directors for:
• The Criminal Justice Institute of Atlanta University
• The Georgia Association of Security Personnel
• The Metropolitan Atlanta Drug and Vice Squad (President)
• The North Central Georgia Law Enforcement Academy
• The Georgia Sheriff’s Association Youth Homes (President)
• The Butler Street Y.M.C.A.
Richard’s numerous awards and honors from the community include:
- The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major For Justice Award in Government
- The 1986 Presidential Achievement Award from the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials
- The Outstanding Achievement in Empowerment Award from the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
- The Pioneer in Law Enforcement Award from the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
- The Image Award from the Association of Law Enforcement Officers of Dekalb County
- The Commanders Award for Public Service from the Commanding General of the Third Army/Forscom at Fort McPherson, Atlanta
Additionally, Richard was appointed to the Executive Committee of the State Democratic Party of Georgia in 1987 and held the position of Chairman of the state party’s affirmative action committee.
Richard Lankford is an accomplished pianist, organist, producer, and gospel music arranger who is also the President of Sovereign Records, an independent record company. He is in the process of releasing his first CD project entitled, “Who But God Alone.” He has served in past years as the Minister of Music for the Kirby Avenue Church of God in Muncie, Indiana and for the Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
He also serves as the President of the gospel division of Crew Records, an independent record label founded by William Guest, One of the original Pips, of Gladys Knight and The Pips.
He further served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Boxing Association, Inc. during the year 2006.
He has also finished and is now in the process of editing his first novel for publication and has finished a new screenplay on the challenges and struggles of his mother’s life.
He is a much sought after motivational speaker for churches, civic clubs, political organizations, schools, colleges, and universities throughout the country.
Richard Lankford is a native of Chicago, Illinois and was educated in the Chicago Public School system. As a high school student, he was the President of the Senior Graduating Class, President of the Junior Class, President of the Modern Music Masters Honor Society, President of the Future Teachers of America, President of the French Club and President of both the Junior and Senior Acappella Choirs.
He received an Illinois State Teacher education Scholarship to Chicago State University, (formerly Chicago Teachers College), where he majored in mathematics, with a minor in music. Richard is skilled in staffing analysis, interpersonal communications, conflict resolution, government agency budgeting, public relations, departmental administration, narrative writing, public speaking, campaign management and employment skills training.
In his professional religious career, he was called into the ministry and licensed to preach in 1977 by the Mount Moriah Baptist Church, under Dr. Howard W. Creecy, Sr. He was ordained in 1978 and began his pastoral career in 1979. His ministerial history is as follows:
• Present Bishop of The Atlanta International Christian Praise Center, Atlanta, Ga
• Former Pastor of the Mount Olive Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga.
• Former Pastor of the Springfield Baptist Church, Hogansville, Ga.
• Former Pastor of the Zion Hill Baptist Church, Breman, Ga.
He has preached in many areas of the United States, Africa, and in Europe, and has conducted music workshops and evangelistic revivals in Heidleburg, Germany.
He is married to the former Ms. Jacquelyn J. Jones of Atlanta, who is a certified Gerontologist and senior planning specialist for the Atlanta Regional Commission – Aging Division. She is also serving as the Senior Pastor of the Atlanta International Christian Praise Center. They are the proud parents of three lovely children; Nancelyn, Richard Jr. and LaMont, the grandparents of twelve wonderful grandchildren and the great grandparents of one wonderful great-grandchild.
Richard Lankford is the son of the late Clifford and Irene Lankford, a beautiful and God-fearing interracial father and mother, who taught him how to love and have compassion for all people, regardless of their race or appearance. Through the struggles of their lives and their sincere teachings from the Word of God, Richard became a unique individual who carried forward the impressions of his family and reached out to thousands of people, no matter where they were or what condition their lives were in, to encourage and uplift them with a vision of what God could do with their future.
His family upbringing positioned him in such a special arena with God that he received his calling into the ministry, became a Christian musician and a gospel soloist, entered elected office, became a pastor to other pastors, was consecrated to the office of Bishop and was blessed to have a wonderfully large family.