We have noticed when one company buys another, or merges, new management will often be brought in to implement methods and programs proven successful for the buyer. At times, such change goes down to the level of even floor supervisors in the factory. The idea is that it is cost-effective to replace the old guard rather than to re-orient or change to new ways. When elected sheriff, I tried to pick management that best suited Bradley County. I’ve also promoted from the ranks based on experience, education, and ability. Some, who I felt could do the job and deserved a chance, just did not work out. I have somewhat of an advantage in knowing the longtime employees personally. I have tried to improve my knowledge and world view by being exposed to others whose experiences differ from mine. We live in a very rapidly changing world and Bradley County is being swept along by this tidal force, whether we like it or not. As sheriff, I am still learning and open to all new ways to prevent, detect and deter crime. Much of this continuing education comes with networking with many agencies; constantly reading; and attending seminars by the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association, FBI and others. I, along with all of our deputies — both law enforcement and corrections — are required a minimum number of in-service training hours annually to maintain our certification. While the individual department head has the closest relationship and greater influence on the morale and daily work satisfaction, it is my responsibility to ensure the leaders can perform, or give another a chance to lead. Mr. Laurence J. Peter advanced the theory that often a person is promoted beyond his competence. This “Peter Principle,” for example, says: Ace Plumbing employs a good plumber who gets better and faster with his work. After a while, the big boss promotes him, giving him another plumber and a helper. They excel in production and quality. The big boss lands a big contract and decides to promote his man to superintendent with 25 plumbers. This great worker no longer works with his hands, but instructs and inspires. Production and quality start to slip. He did very well hands-on, but had no leadership skills, and perhaps no desire, to be the superintendent. Opportunities are few and far between for rank advancement in most law enforcement agencies. We do have people who are quite accomplished in some specialty areas. For example, a detective can become very effective with experience and training. This person produces day in and day out. He or she may want to be the best in the field without the additional responsibility of supervising others. Many law enforcement agencies have followed the military and created specialist pay and assignments for these individuals. It’s interesting in law enforcement, we say we are striving to be professional, yet we don’t follow the professionals very often in building expertise in a field the way the medical, educational, legal, engineering, and other professionals do. A professional detective, forensics expert, or street-savvy patrol deputy is invaluable in keeping our people safe by detecting and preventing crime. As most readers know, Bradley County does not pay yet at any grade comparable to what other agencies pay. We remain a career launching pad for many beginning in law enforcement. We pay for their training, provide experience, certifications and salary for a few years. Then they go on to better pay and job protection. We hire a replacement and start the process over again. This cycle started some years ago and continues today. Previous sheriffs have attempted to break the cycle, yet their attempts fell on deaf ears. I dare say, this waste has cost Bradley County taxpayers in the millions. Plus, the Sheriff’s Office is hampered by the loss of all that “institutional memory.” I still believe my efforts to level the playing field will come to fruition. This will happen as more of our taxpayers become aware of this crucial need, and our leaders come to full realization of just where we are and what it is really costing. When enough of our people are aware, I believe they will insist on a living wage commensurate with the job and a career-service plan that will give job stability to the best of the best. Even with our best efforts, we will still have to make it without those who do not maintain the high standard of conduct and character that we, as a community, insist on. Thanks for reading.