Fast feet to enforce the law
by Jim Ruth, Bradley County Sheriff
Nov 11, 2012 | 1250 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Many years ago when I was a patrolman for the Cleveland Police Department we were getting complaints about traffic problems. One or more people were speeding up and down the streets on motorcycles (dirt bikes) or tearing up the terrain on the site where the Everhart subdivision was being developed.

One day I tried to stop a speeder on his dirt bike that had very loud mufflers or no mufflers. Instead of stopping he tried to outrun me. When we reached the area where dirt bikes and 4-wheelers had made a rough trail on the Everhart property, the guy I was chasing left the roadway and went out this trail.

There certainly was no way I could have continued the chase over this rough terrain in my patrol car, so I bailed out and continued to chase on foot. As the guy made his way up and down the hills along the trail he apparently did not expect me to be chasing him on foot, so he did not go as fast as he possibly could have gone. Well, about a quarter mile or so out the trail I caught him as he was halfway up one of the hills, and I pulled him off the dirt bike. I was much younger then and a better runner, as well.

Over the years we have had to adapt our ways of enforcing traffic laws in an effort to keep the driving public safe. This past year we have tried to bring down the number of traffic deaths in Bradley County. We have done that through advertisements and increased enforcement efforts.

Yet, we are battling overwhelming odds as we work to make our streets and roads safer. There are more cars operating in Bradley County than ever before and we also have a large amount of traffic traveling through Bradley County on Interstate 75. The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and the THP work the state roads, county roads and I-75. The Cleveland Police patrol some of the interstate as well.

In all of Bradley County this year so far we have had 19 traffic fatalities. What you may not have known is that only one of these deaths was related to alcohol and only three to speed. The rest of the deaths were related to attention problems. So, these attention problems have accounted for almost 74 percent of our traffic deaths. It is also worth noting that in six of these deaths (31.5 percent) the victims were not wearing their seat belts.

So, you can see that inattention while driving is a real problem. People are frequently placing themselves and others in danger when they reach down to pick up something off the floorboard, adjust the radio, answer their cellphone or create and send text messages. People are still texting while driving and are rear-ending other vehicles or otherwise running into them, or are running out of the roadway and hitting stationary objects such as trees or buildings.

It seems that those who do these things on a regular basis think that they can get by with these actions, although others can’t. Also, while Tennessee has a law against texting while driving, violations of this law appear to be on the increase. I get reports all the time of people driving and texting. One man complained that he sees several people texting and driving as he drives a short distance from his work to home each day.

There seems to be no let-up of this dangerous, illegal activity even though there have been so many public service ads warning of this danger.

I would suggest that families and groups make this a much bigger part of their conversations as we in law enforcement try to get a handle on this very real problem.

n Now, in ending this column I want to say to the residents of Bradley County that what I predicted two weeks ago in my article about the methamphetamine problem was true. There were those that did come after me for my stance on the meth problem and the sale of ephedrine/pseudoephedrine products. I believe that there are still some who are uninformed on the evils and dangers of meth to our community. To these we will continue to sound the alarm. To those who are aware of the great danger and persist in advocating a flawed system that does not work, shame on you.

What I also want to say is that two United States congressmen, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, have called for a federal investigation into Tennessee’s database system that is in place to control the sale of these products.

This system has been cited as ineffective, which I stated in my prior article, and a potential conflict of interest in the way in which it is administered.

My life and motives are out there for all to see, as I am a public servant. Therefore, I believe those who would throw rocks should not be able to hide their hand. I still maintain that the present law as it exists relating to the sale of ephedrine/pseudoephedrine products only benefits the big money profiteers, while bringing a curse on thousands of children and families.

Tennessee is still on track to be No. 2 or at least No. 3 in the nation for meth lab busts this year.

Mr. Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” I would add to that, “Or continue to do the wrong thing.”

It is for certain that everything about meth is evil, so I will keep you informed on this developing battle.

Thanks for reading.