Politics and the local sheriff
by Jim Ruth Bradley County Sheriff
Sep 09, 2012 | 1179 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The job of being the sheriff is multifaceted to say the least. One facet of the job is you are supposed to be a political leader of your party for the county. Traditionally, state and national office seekers make it a point to make a courtesy call on the sheriff, when they visit a county.

In many counties throughout the United States, the sheriff has a lot of political savvy and is very much involved in local and state politics. I am not and do not want the role of being a wheeler-dealer political operator.

Over the past two years, I have shared information about the functions of the sheriff’s office and law enforcement in general. I want to talk about the political side and how it has impacted our community and others.

Many of our readers know I came up through the ranks of the Cleveland Police Department and, then, the ranks of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.

When I ran for the office of sheriff two years ago, I ran on my experience, education and reputation of being a straightforward and honest lawman.

One observer, who has a graduate degree, says he is going to use this as a case study to write a paper that proves honesty and truth trumps all political coalitions, money, political endorsements, etc. Ordinary people can be elected to office without any big names or big money, political bosses behind them.

Nationally, this is the political season and that is why I am writing on this subject. The other reason is I just read where a federal charge against the 80-year-old sheriff in Arizona was dropped.

This old, conservative sheriff was elected in 1992 after retiring from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He heads up one of the largest sheriff’s offices in the nation. His political enemies have harassed him ever since he became the sheriff.

He has been accused of a number of things that apparently were not true, but were simply cooked up by his venomous political foes.

If you study this sheriff’s record while in office, you can see his enemies, which included much of the press, have begun to find fault with his chief deputy. It didn’t even stop there, but extended to other senior members of his staff after they found out they were not hurting the sheriff’s popularity.

These tactics have been replicated all over the country. This type of undermining was the theme of a lot of old cowboy movies of years ago. It is funny how much fiction mirrors the truth.

How do we discern the truth from a lie? There are a lot of smooth operators out there.

Maybe we should insist that the tale bearer disclose his motives for telling the tale. In other words seek a full disclosure. Is there something the tale bearer or his friends or family will gain from the tale? Or, is the person just a gossip who enjoys retelling sensational tales?

Politically, if you can undermine or otherwise damage your opponent’s credibility you can eat away at their good name and high-principled reputation. We all have seen this kind of damage being done at work and in the church, as well.

The next time you hear someone bad-mouthing another, ask them, “Why would you say such, what do you have to gain?” You can, also, say, “I am going to tell that individual what you said the next time I see him.”

In time, most of us can spot a liar when we hear him lie a few times.

Did you know most political bosses shun the spotlight? Well, they do. They often let others be their mouthpiece. They simply manipulate the situation and people to get their own agenda met.

As a public servant, I will be able to do my job as sheriff as long as I have the goodwill of the majority of the people. By telling the people how I honestly see it, I believe we will continue to get the job done.

That is what is important.

Thanks for reading…