I knew that, as the transition started, there would be many things to deal with, and that some of them would be problems left over from the previous administration.
Overall, the transition went really well. A transition team was formed and we all set out to make it as smooth as possible. Yes, there were organizational changes made, with some deputies moving to different areas within our agency. We reduced the rank structure, where needed, and increased it in the Patrol Division by re-instituting the rank of corporal. This ensures that there is always a front line supervisor and an assistant, managing and leading the day-to-day operations of each patrol shift. During this process no deputy or other employee lost their job. I made the commitment to myself and to others during the election that I would not fire anyone, regardless of whom they supported.
We have also set out to save money elsewhere, but that has been a very hard thing to do. Yet, we have reduced overtime expenditures and have not purchased any unnecessary equipment or other items.
In the Criminal Investigations Division the rank structure has been reduced from nine supervisory positions to four, and there are investigators who work in the evenings. This has saved money and reduced overtime expenses. Other areas in CID include networking printers to one machine, which will save about $2,000 in ink costs in one year, and turning off lights and electronics when out of the office. This will be implemented throughout the BCSO. We are looking at ways to save money elsewhere and will do so if possible.
We have had to deal with some major issues since Sept. 1.
Around the middle of August, weeks before I took office, a jail inspection was performed by an inspector from the Tennessee Correctional Institute. There were numerous discrepancies found in the jail that had to be corrected.
The two most urgent needs were to clean and paint in many areas of the jail, and to increase staffing, which had been allowed to fall well below an acceptable level.
So, during the transition we added 14 correctional officers and brought the staffing back up to a level the state would approve.
On Oct. 13 the jail was re-inspected and we have received verbal and written notification that we have passed it, and will be certified, once again.
Most of our employees have adapted well to the changes we have made, and morale seems high. Deputies and other employees are enjoying their work, again. The patrol deputies and our investigators in CID have been busy.
They have arrested numerous violators for burglaries, thefts, robbery, drug offenses, and sex crimes. Our civil process and warrant teams have served hundreds of civil and criminal warrants, and our court security officers have been busy providing security for the court system.
As I committed to do, during the election, we have increased our efforts in Crime Prevention.
We are working to get more in our communities involved in helping us prevent and solve crime. We have conducted several Neighborhood Watch and Tennessee Handgun Permit classes, along with continued checks on senior citizens. In the coming months we will be implementing aspects of Community Policing, as we decide how to best do that, so it will be effective and acceptable to all involved.
I believe it is very important to keep our whole community informed of the operations of your Sheriff’s Office. I will issue a message personally from time to time, so that you will be familiar with our efforts to prevent crime and make all of our neighborhoods safer.
I, also, want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the tremendous support and best wishes we have received from so many of you.
So, these first two months of my administration have been very busy for all of us. I am looking forward to these four years ahead, to working with people in our communities, our county commissioners and mayor, and to helping to keep Bradley County one of the best places in the country to live.