Building trust, day by day
by Jim Ruth, Bradley County Sheriff
Mar 30, 2014 | 734 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It takes time to build trust in an individual or in an organization. Norman Rockwell speaks of trust in a thousand words worth through his painting of the big neighborhood cop treating the little runaway preschooler to a donut.

Parents teach their children to run to the police or call them in any emergency. Good parents teach their children that the law enforcement officer is their friend and protector.

As a sworn officer I have always appreciated that confidence and attitude.

As an administrator I am saddened when that confidence is shattered by the missteps of a law enforcement officer in my charge.

When a deputy is rude or reacting to a situation too harshly, most often that officer can be disciplined and will correct the problem through his own volition without any prompting.

The problem is corrected out of his/her own sense of integrity and a proper sense of “oughtness.”

We always have those who purposely do wrong and then try to cover it up with lies and deceit. As much as I hate it that a person will lose his or her career over these reckless, illegal acts, as the sheriff, I must act swiftly and decisively by terminating the employment of that dishonest person. I have done that in the past and I will continue to do so in the future.

We cannot let one or two rotten apples spoil the reputation of the whole bunch.

We have worked hard at building a reputation of trust and integrity with the public. I have built my own reputation over the last four decades.

The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office has redoubled its efforts in the last few years to earn the trust of every part of our society.

I have spoken often of the violence of inner city Chattanooga. The reason of course is that it is very close to us and there is a natural spillover of criminal activity to the suburbs.

Like other Tennesseans I am very much concerned for this otherwise great historic and beloved city of the south. Chattanooga is our neighbor and we in Bradley County are counted as part of the Chattanooga Urban Area.

There are city and neighborhood leaders in Chattanooga who are trying to stop the almost “death a day” shootings. Distrust and fear are part of the conversation as these groups meet.

The minority groups that are affected the most have distrust for the law. Should they testify, they fear reprisals from the shooter and his group as well.

I pray that there be a renewed trust and bond and that they eradicate this very serious problem of violence. We in Bradley/Cleveland have a vested interest in their success.

I would like to say that the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and Cleveland Police Department have the sophistication to deal with the problems that this criminal spillover brings.

We have qualified people in place that can assess the threat and take the appropriate action against the onslaught of criminal activity.

To deny these indicators would be naive or plain dishonest.

We simply cannot compromise that which is true and honest. As an effective service arm of the county government we must have the trust and goodwill of the public.

We have all learned by now you cannot trust the information you read over the Internet. It seems that most of these false postings are by people who have an ax to grind and do not have the nerve to face the person criticized.

That said, I want to invite you to check out our website at and read our postings there. You can tweet me personally on Twitter at tweet@sheriffjimruth. Any questions you have will be responded to as soon as possible. You can also call and talk to one of our command personnel if I am out of pocket. I have found them to be trustworthy. If not, they would not be in that important leadership position.

They may not agree with you, but they will listen and reason with you by responding with the truth.

We want to do the job right the first time. When we make a mistake and it is brought to our attention we will back up and make amends as we get it right.

Our goal has been to earn your trust and keep it. Again, the public trust is altogether necessary to have good law enforcement.

Thanks for reading.