I will also tell you of other happenings as well. But today I would like to tell you of the results of under-funding the Sheriff in the recent past.
Some of the old-timers will well remember Cleveland/Bradley County becoming the “mileage rollback capitol of the world.”
CBS Television Network, through its program “60 Minutes,” told its viewers how cars were brought here to have the miles rolled back so that the used car would bring a higher price. When one of our folks vacationed in other parts of the country and said they were from Cleveland, people would say, “Oh, you are from that town that doctored the car mileage!”
Hopefully, we have lived that bad name down.
Local law enforcement simply did not have enough trained personnel to fight what became a scandal nationally. Also, later there was a proliferation of chop shops. Different individuals were stealing cars and trucks in places like Atlanta and Nashville, then bringing them to Bradley County. The Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) were taken off wrecks and placed on these stolen, high dollar trucks and cars.
Our sheriff’s office was under-staffed, lacking the training and experience that was needed to fight this problem. Funding needs went unmet. Criminal activity always bring with it undesirable people.
To the credit of our sheriff’s office and law enforcement leaders, they did the best they could do with the funding they had. Federal and State law enforcement came in to help but their time here was limited. As industrious and innovative as some of our law enforcement people were, they were overwhelmed by the enormity of the crime problem.
As illegal drug activity became a large problem, I was selected, along with another deputy, as the first official Drug Enforcement Unit for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office. We could fund only two deputies, but we needed more.
Most of these criminal sprees that are a blight on our reputation as a good community could have been avoided had public safety been properly funded. We would have had well experienced, trained, dedicated deputies to protect us from such lawlessness and keep them from getting a foot-hold in our community. That is why I have been hard-nosed in recent weeks about the upcoming law enforcement budget.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again, “The indicators are here for crime to increase. More and more ex-convicts are moving here. Violence is increasing just south of us. We must keep up the vigil.”
We have the wherewithal to get the job done. But, like the songster put it, “I need a little help from my friends.”
Thanks for reading.