Sheriff's Office: Maintaining flexibility is a key to crime control
by Jim Ruth Bradley County Sheriff
Dec 01, 2013 | 513 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In recent weeks, there was a series of burglaries in the south end of the county. Our STAR Team was assigned to that geographical area in quick response to this criminal activity. There were some individuals from Chattanooga arrested who were branching out to our county to do their dirty work.

Our STAR Team was developed to stem the tide of criminal activity such as this. This group of patrolmen and detectives are flexible enough to help the zone deputy do intense patrolling and saturate the geographical area that has the most criminal activity.

We have had the same amount of patrolmen and patrolwomen on duty as we did several years ago. We have just deployed them differently. With this flexibility, they are much more effective in detecting and preventing crime. They are much more apt to be in the right place at the right time. This and other efforts helped us to be more aggressive with our crime fighting.

Bradley County is at more than 101,000 in population and growing rapidly. We have a heavily traveled interstate that is the main corridor from Florida to Canada, and all points in between.

Multinational companies are located here, a major private university, a large junior college, two public school systems, private schools, family farms, poultry growers and many small service businesses and manufacturers are here as well. There are health care providers, both large and small, that are headquartered here.

Bradley County also is home to a lot of Chattanooga commuters, along with a few long-distance commuters to Knoxville, Nashville, and Atlanta. I know one who flies his private plane to Atlanta to work!

Your Sheriff’s Office has a lot of responsibility in providing a safe environment for all of our residents. This new and rapid growth brings with it a lot of new problems and challenges to law enforcement.

Our deputies must be able to hold onto their family values (basic decency and honesty), yet must also continually adapt to the ever-growing sophistication of a thriving, bustling community. There are some who cannot transition from the “Bubba” mentality.

I have mentioned before we have deputies who have the experience, education, character and the intelligence quotient to meet these new challenges now, and, I believe, into the distant future.

I encourage our county leaders, both present and those who will be filling the expected vacancies next year, to put public safety at the forefront of their agenda of public service. We must continue to build the manpower at the Sheriff’s Office in order to keep abreast of the ever-growing populace. We must keep the people safe.

Nothing else is acceptable.

In recent days, one of our deputies was Johnny-on-the-spot when a resident flagged him down as he patrolled the neighborhood. A burglar was caught before she could leave the area. Across the county, our deputies were called to a neighborhood over a burglary in progress and responded in time to arrest two suspects before they could get away — thanks to the quick action of the neighbors and the deputy sheriffs.

What if you had the best alarm system available or the best dog to warn of an intruder, but did not have enough experienced, seasoned deputy sheriffs to respond in a timely fashion?

More population means more calls for service.

That is just the way it is.

It is unreasonable to think that we can adequately control crime if we do not add personnel that is commensurate with our growth.

Being a part of metro Chattanooga during this particular time in history brings with it some unique challenges. The crime problems that have plagued that city in recent years are spilling over into our heretofore quiet bedroom community.

It has been reported in the Banner that crime is beginning to trend upward again nationally. And it was cited in this report that many crimes simply go unreported.

As leaders of our community, we must keep our fingers on the criminal pulse and learn better how to read the predictors of criminal activity.

So far, my staff and I have been on target in reading the trends and have made adjustments to effectively counter the threats.

I believe it is so important that we keep our plans and projections current and up-to-date that I will share the needs of county law enforcement with those who are running for office next year. Should they get elected, they will not waste any time getting up to speed. We can’t afford any wasted motion. I will be glad to set up a mutually convenient time to meet with any valid candidate and share with them the same needs and projections I now share with the sitting County Commission.

Four of your commissioners have already announced they are leaving the Commission at the end of this term. You can already see that leaves a big hole to be filled. That also points to the importance of the incoming commissioners knowing in advance what they are faced with concerning courts, jail and public safety, along with all the liabilities.

Again, we can’t afford to miss a beat when it comes to the peace and safety of all Bradley Countians.

Thanks for reading.