Joe Montgomery says he has worked with people at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation who have been “mentors and leaders” for more than three decades.
“I had really good supervisors through my career who helped me out and taught me valuable lessons,” said Montgomery, who was the assistant special agent in charge of the GBI's Region 1 office in Calhoun under Greg Ramey and who recently had the word “assistant” struck from his title. “I’ve had some supervisors who weren’t great at people skills. I learned a lot from both types. I learned how to treat people. The best part about this job is that I have such an experienced, professional and very talented group of men and women who work here.”
Among those Montgomery counts as mentors are former GBI director Phil Peters, who recruited him to the bureau in 1984, and former special agents in charge Ramey and Jerry Scott. Montgomery is taking over the leadership of the Region 1 office following Ramey’s retirement earlier this year.
“I have been very successful because I have had good relationships and good mentors,” Montgomery said. “I am just very blessed. My success has come from other people helping me. I have worked hard and it has been a good marriage. But other people showed me how to be successful.”
Scott, who retired in 2016 after leading the Region 1 office as well as being head of the state's crime scene investigations unit, said Montgomery always had the skills to be successful.
"Joe is one of the hardest-working agents I have ever been associated with," Scott said. "He is an awfully good investigator. He has a wide variety of experience through his years and has been promoted all throughout. He and I have had a brother-like work relationship. We might not have always agreed with each other on everything, but we got along real well. We had different opinions, but I always trusted his judgment and the quality of his work. He is going to do a great job as the SAC (special agent in charge)."
Scott said Montgomery worked closely on one of the state's most high-profile cases as one of the investigators of the Tri-State Crematory in Walker County in 2002. Ramey was the lead investigator, and he said when he was given the opportunity to pick his investigative team, Montgomery was his first choice. More than 300 bodies were discovered on the grounds of the crematory in the Noble community.
Ramey and Scott both said if there was a case involving one of their family members, they would want Montgomery to be the investigator.
"Ain't nobody going to outwork him," said Ramey, who worked with Montgomery as an agent and as his supervisor. "He is like that bulldog that grabs a hold tightly and just will not let go. I used to have to tell him to go home, and he is just that dedicated. Joe is fantastic. They would have had a hard time picking anyone that would have been any better."
“This job is basically about relationships and furthering those relationships,” Montgomery said. “We have such a good working relationship with agencies across the area, and those are relationships we have built and worked on. It really is like fingers in a glove how well we work together. Those relationships are what help us solve cases and do what we do. My success is totally related to their success.”
Montgomery will have been with the GBI for 35 years this October. He was originally assigned to the Region 1 office, which covers Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Polk, Walker and Whitfield counties, in 1994. In 2005, he graduated from the FBI/U.S. Army Hazardous Devices School, and is a member of the GBI’s Special Operations Bomb Disposal Unit as a certified bomb disposal technician. He is also a POST- (Police Officer Standards and Training Council) certified instructor and firearms instructor. He was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Region 1 office in 2014.
Montgomery began in the GBI working undercover drug investigations in 1984. He was promoted to special agent in 1986 and was assigned to the Region 12 office in Eastman in middle Georgia. Before moving to the Region 1 office, he worked in drug enforcement in Savannah and Atlanta as well as on organized crime and drug suppression task forces.
A native of Conyers, Montgomery graduated from the University of Georgia in 1983 and received a master's in public safety administration from Columbus State University in 2017.