One week from today, Bradley County Sheriff-elect Eric Watson will take his oath of office along with his command staff, deputies and constables.
Former sheriffs and current judges will issue the charge and perform the oaths to each group.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland is slated to be the master of ceremonies when the oaths are given at North Cleveland Church of God beginning at 4 p.m. on Aug. 31.
Special guest speaker for the event is Mark Gwyn, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Tracy Trott will be present with the THP Honor Guard.
According to Watson, Sunday afternoon will be his official retirement from the 22nd Legislative District which includes Meigs and Polk counties, and part of Bradley County.
The schedule includes the Pledge of Allegiance led by newly elected Judge Sandra Donaghy, words of encouragement by NCOG Pastor Mitch Maloney and an American flag dedication by Watson’s legislative colleagues, including state Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, who represents the 24th Legislative District, and state Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, who represents the 9th Senatorial District.
Judge Dewayne Bunch will read the oath of office.
Former Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble will charge the Command Staff and Judge Mike Sharp will administer the oath.
Former sheriff Robert Lawson will charge the deputies and Bradley County General Sessions Judge Sheridan Randolph is to administer the oath of office to deputies.
A well respected former Cleveland Police commissioner will lead the charge of office for the Bradley County constables. Mitchell Lyle is a beloved member of the law enforcement community.
Judge Daniel Swafford will administer the oath to the new and incumbent constables of Bradley County. Watson plans on working closely with the elected constables and utilizing their constitutional services.
According to Watson, he has met with each of the former sheriffs to learn from their experiences.
“They have worked on the foundation of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and we will continue to build on their experiences,” Watson said. That’s his reasoning for including these former sheriffs in his oath of office.
Longtime sheriff Dan Gilley will present the charge of duty to the new Bradley County sheriff.
“I am honored to have learned from these former sheriffs and worked under Dan and Tim,” Watson said. “I thank them for their service to the residents of Bradley County and ask for their prayers and blessings as we maintain the tradition of public safety as we move forward in the 21st century of law enforcement and protecting our community.”
He added, “It is each and every one of us that can and will make a difference in Bradley County … not just members of the law enforcement agencies. We all have to watch out and protect each other. Bradley County and Cleveland residents have proved this many times in the past as we survived and rebuilt after April 2011. Those who committed crimes against victims during this time were vigorously sought and prosecuted for their actions. It is our duty to help each other.”
According to Watson’s invitation, Phil Taylor of the Bradley Baptist Association will offer a prayer of protection over the deputies and the Watson staff, as well as the community.
A small reception will be held afterward at the Bryant Fellowship Hall.