Take steps for your safety

Eric Watson Bradley County Sheriff
Posted 12/7/17


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Take steps for your safety


Take steps for your safety

After watching the news each day, it is evident that many areas and institutions in America are under attack. Every day, I read or see a report of an incident directed toward folks simply going about their daily lives. Since July 2016, there have been close to 20 violent incidents in the United States that caused injury or death to citizens and/or law enforcement officers.

In 2017, there have been two incidents where a single person has entered a house of worship and committed unspeakable acts of violence. One of those instances was in Antioch, Tennessee, just south of Nashville, while the other took place in Sutherland, Texas. In Antioch, one person died while eight were injured.

In Texas, 27 persons, many of whom were children, were shot to death, while 30 were injured. Every instance of violence is shocking and serious. Since taking office as your sheriff in 2014, I have worked with churches and other organizations on a number of ways to add a layer of protection for those who attend such services and meetings.

In 2015, I sponsored meetings where we were able to provide information and assistance to both ministers, members of their congregations and more. This information covered security of buildings, staff and church attendees.

This year, after violent incidents at public gatherings and churches, I felt it was time your Bradley County Sheriff’s Office immediately moved to the next level when it comes to protecting the public. During the past 30 days, we at the BCSO have sponsored two standing-room-only meetings focusing on church safety. Both public service gatherings have discussed safety issues in local churches and houses of worship, and are a good starting point for a more in-depth, hands-on training for church staff and members.

In looking at the Antioch and Sutherland tragedies, let me sadly say this can take place locally, so we need to be prepared to stop anything like this from happening. We are planning to conduct the in-depth training after the first of the year. I feel like the January and February training sessions will give you, the citizens, the tools to watch for, and deal with, any such event.

I do not know of any other agency that can duplicate the BCSO’s presentations. We will provide dates, times and locations for upcoming sessions through area news media and social media, as well as our website bradleysheriff.com.

This month I directed and approved an amendment of the Bradley County Sheriff Office’s General Orders regarding the use of the agency’s fleet vehicles. That amendment allows deputies and other uniformed officers to drive their fleet vehicles to worship centers, as well as civic and nonprofit organizations. I feel this move can and will act as a deterrent against acts of violence in the community as a whole. I also, as a part of my Back to Basics program, have issued a written directive to the patrol division for deputies to know the location of all worship centers and other nonprofit organizations in their assigned patrol zone. When a service or meeting is in session at the establishment, patrol personnel are to be vigilant in patrolling parking lots.

The BCSO continues to research methods to deter acts of violence within this community. The vehicles driven by our employees will have a presence without the organization necessarily employing a deputy at their function.

These moves are made in tandem with the BCSO Mission Statement, which reads: It is the vision of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office to be a leader in public safety, community service and crime prevention. We will strive to develop the community policing philosophy of building partnerships and problem solving methods with our residents.

It is the goal and purpose of our deputies that Bradley County is an enjoyable and safe community in which to live, work and visit. I feel very strongly about that statement, as your protection, and the protection of your family is our main function, every day, every hour.


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