It has been just over a year since I took office as sheriff of Bradley County. Over the years, I have worked in all areas of law enforcement, so there have been few surprises since taking office. Of course, there have been challenges almost every day. But, I am still excited about my job.
As I review the past year I am grateful for many things. Things such as the good work that the deputies have been doing around the county and how everyone pulled together to handle all that has happened since last Sept. 1. I have heard from many of you almost daily about this and I really appreciate it. I am, also, thankful for all the groups and individuals that have served the people of Bradley County after the tragic events of April 27.
This was the first time that I have ever run for public office. Several of my friends and supporters have reminded me that I was elected by the people, without the support of special interest individuals or groups with money. As a matter of fact, most of these folks were against me. My friends still laugh about having to run up against the deadlines, trying to sell tickets to a fund raiser for money to pay for advertisements. We all enjoyed the challenge, but could have done with less stress. I think every American should get involved in at least one political campaign. You would gain a whole new appreciation for those patriots who are involved.
Another positive note is that I am continuing to work to build up the bridges of goodwill toward those who supported me. I have, also, begun to build those bridges, and mending fences (so to speak) with those who worked against me, politically.
I want to serve all of Bradley County without partisanship or favoritism. I am thankful that people are responding in a very upbeat way. Thanks!
My administration has made several initiatives in working toward being one of the best in law enforcement. We have been trying to create a career service plan that will go a long way in keeping good people at the Sheriff’s Office. This is not like plans the federal government and some state governments have in place. Those plans seem to protect people who are lazy and incompetent. Anyway, that is the perception of the public.
Our career service plan is to keep and protect those people who are competent and want self-improvement opportunities at the work place. This plan, also, provides for discipline and termination for those who continually drag their feet.
This plan will motivate our career employees to work better and to be more professional. Bradley County is better off with these people working for us.
I also want to bring our deputies up to more of a standard, fair wage. We are asking full commitment from our professional staff. I believe it is hypocritical if we (the taxpayers and I) are not fully committed to our deputies and their well being.
In the coming months, I will be asking our residents to look closely at the public safety needs for Bradley County and to convey these thoughts to the County Commission. I believe the taxpayer will agree with the projected needs we have considered, in depth, and continue to assess regularly.
We have, also, tweaked our command structure in order to be more efficient and professional. Adjustments will be made as we need them.
We have deployed a special crime fighting unit to the geographical area that has the biggest crime problem in our county. So far, this unit has been very successful. People in this area, for the first time in years, feel safe in walking down their street or sitting on their front porches. Many arrests have been made for thefts, burglaries, drug offenses and others. We are looking a ways to expand this to include adjacent areas that are problems, also.
It is good when the people we serve become acquainted with our individual deputies. I encourage our deputies to make friends with folks in the districts they are assigned to patrol. These people are more likely to call in any serious activity in their neighborhood or area of the county. What we want is a group of deputies who are professional and have a heart for others.
There are a number of areas which are evolving that will come together to make your Sheriff’s Office a governmental agency of which you, as a citizen, will be very proud.
Our traffic unit is doubling efforts to slow the traffic down. We are simply losing too many of our people to traffic fatalities. It always pains me when the 911 Center sends me a text that another of our young people has been killed in a car crash. In some of these, I have known members of the family or friends of the family.
These traffic fatalities affect all of us in more than one way. The law enforcement community is not immune, either. Across the nation, many officer deaths are from traffic crashes. Locally, one of our State troopers was killed while he and his wife were riding their personal motorcycle.
I mourn all of these, and it appears that most of these tragedies could have been avoided. The biggest factor in most of these crashes has been speed.
In 2010, we had 17 traffic fatalities in the county. So far in 2011 we have had 10. Both of these are far too many. I am asking the public to bear with us, as we try to crack down on the speeders across the county. We are going to have to stop issuing warning citations and begin to write actual citations to those going too fast. Why, because our Bradley County residents losing their loved ones in this way is unacceptable.
I, with the help of others, am formulating a campaign to do something about this problem, bringing awareness of it throughout the county. I will keep you apprised of this as we proceed with this campaign.
We want to be like the former U.S. Army slogan and “Be All That We Can Be.”
Thanks for listening!