Longtime residents of these areas have a strong identification with their community, and want a strong law enforcement presence in each of them. And I agree with them.
Over the years, Bradley County has enjoyed safe, quiet neighborhoods that were patrolled by just a few deputies. Since I started at the Sheriff’s Office, there was at least one Sunday morning we had only one patrol deputy to cover the whole county. Fast forward from then to almost 30 years later, when today you will find many more people living in our county … and we are still growing! New residents are arriving almost daily, plus there are people traveling through these neighborhoods from outside the county.
We remain optimistic for Bradley County’s economic future, and I believe for our safety and well-being also. As we met at the Justice Center recently to track storms threatening our county, someone said you can judge a community by its churches, schools, hospitals, law enforcement and other emergency services. We made plans to send a deputy, a firefighter and an EMT to each call. Fortunately, we did not have any tornadoes. There was wind damage and a whole lot of people who slept lightly the rest of the night.
We have always had good participation by the parents and other adults sponsoring Little League, pee-wee football, soccer, cheerleading, T-ball, basketball and other sports from each of these communities. Children that are benefitting from these activities are not only learning about the game they are playing, they are also learning about how to be good citizens in their community and better citizens of their country. The give and take, the sharing in the team effort, the pride of being part of the group, the willingness to contribute — all of this encourages that little boy or girl to become a part of something bigger than just one’s self.
Each of these communities has individuals and families who have lived there for generations. They have established churches and playgrounds and have wielded their power to bring good schools to their area. These same people stay in touch with the Sheriff’s Office, giving their support to their assigned deputies. They also make suggestions and ask for our help when there is a perceived need. We enjoy good, solid support from each of these communities.
Most of them participate, formally and/or informally, in Neighborhood Watch. Neighbors watching out for neighbors was a part of these folks’ lives long before the “Neighborhood Watch Program” was introduced.
We have “everyday people” who keep an eye on the goings and comings of their communities. They are people who live by the golden rule and also have tolerance for people who are different from themselves. But they still have a strong sense of civic pride and responsibility. This strong sense of responsibility encompasses the peace and safety for their little part of the world.
Needless to say, our job in law enforcement is made much easier because we have so many with this attitude across Bradley County.
As sheriff, I am trying to encourage the active participation of our residents in maintaining the peace and safety of our streets. What we do now, or fail to do now, in county law enforcement will directly affect our grandchildren’s lives well into their adulthood.
I plan to do those things that insure their safety. I know that I may be at odds with others from time to time, but I want to keep “right” on my side.
As most readers know, I have taken a stand against the meth problem. Tens of thousands of dollars have been spent to silence my voice by the drug special interest groups. As I have fought against this “evil” enterprise, I have felt a few times very much alone as a public official.
Let it be known, I am just as resolute now as I was to begin with in my fight against meth. What did the writer say? “My head is bloodied, but unbowed.”
Thanks for reading.