By BRIAN GRAVES
Bradley County Sheriff’s Office Captain of Criminal Investigations Steve Lawson abruptly quit his position without notice Wednesday morning, forcing Sheriff Eric Watson to quickly choose someone …
Bradley County Sheriff’s Office Captain of Criminal Investigations Steve Lawson abruptly quit his position without notice Wednesday morning, forcing Sheriff Eric Watson to quickly choose someone who has experience in that division to fill the vacancy.
Lawson then picked up papers from the Bradley County Election Commission office to run against the man he has served under for more than three years.
Lawson’s move brings to reality what many in local political circles have anticipated for some time — a contested Republican primary which will likely determine the next sheriff.
It will not be Lawson’s first time seeking the post.
He has run before, but as a Democratic candidate. He publicly announced he would switch to the Republican Party during remarks at the 2015 Bradley County Republican Women’s Christmas Dinner.
Lawson, who came into the position when Watson took office in 2014, addressed his resignation letter to BCSO Chief Deputy Brian Smith.
He said that “the time has come for me to separate myself from this administration.”
“I have done my best to lead my division, and to be a positive influence within the management team, despite the dark cloud that has hung over the department for so long,” Lawson wrote. “When I can no longer respect or believe the person I work for, I know it is time to make the difficult decision to part ways.”
The sheriff issued a blunt response late Wednesday to Lawson’s words and actions.
“The Criminal Investigations Division is responsible for the resolutions of burglaries and major crimes,” Watson wrote. “That is why I find it not only unprofessional, but simply outrageous the former captain of that division would abandon his responsibilities without notice to pursue a political agenda.”
“In leaving without notice, the former captain did not attempt to complete any cases on his desk or allow for a transition where his successor could have been properly briefed on the cases at hand,” he continued. “He simply quit on the people of Bradley County for selfish reasons.”
Watson was quick to appoint Capt. Brian Quinn, a 26-year law enforcement veteran, as the new leader of the Criminal Investigations Division.
According to a biography released by the BCSO, Quinn began his career in the Criminal Justice field in 1991 as a dispatcher and reserve police officer with Cleveland Police Department.
Two years later, he was hired as a patrol deputy at the BCSO and was transferred to the agency’s Criminal Investigations Division’s Drug Enforcement Unit in 1996.
Quinn held the ranks of detective sergeant and detective lieutenant before transitioning to the Bradley County/Cleveland City school districts as the Safety and Security Coordinator in 2008.
He returned to the BCSO in 2010 and has previously held the ranks of lieutenant in the Patrol and Judicial Services Divisions and captain in the Patrol and Criminal Investigations Divisions.
Currently, Quinn is also an instructor at Cleveland State Community College’s Law Enforcement Academy, where he teaches Narcotics Investigations to cadets looking to launch their careers in the Criminal Justice profession.
“Capt. Quinn will be a tremendous asset to my Command Staff, who I am tremendously honored to serve beside in order to continue providing this community quality public service,” Watson said in his announcement. “During his many years as a public servant, Quinn has proven his ability to work with people in this community with a mix of professionalism and finding common ground to resolve issues. Capt. Quinn has an excellent work ethic, is an outstanding investigator, is extremely conscientious, and his integrity is beyond reproach.”
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