Special to the Banner
When I first campaigned to be the sheriff of Bradley County, I promised to take the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office in a new direction.
"When I entered my office for the first time at midnight, Sept. 1, 2014, bearing that badge of honor and responsibility as sheriff, I saw immediately the steep and rocky hill the new direction I wanted for the sheriff's office," Eric Watson said.
"I formulated a three-year plan which was observed every step of the way by the state jail commission and today, we have a law enforcement institute as good, as any other county our size.
"On my first day, a dramatic restructuring of the organizational chart put more deputies on active patrol and gave those deputies a well-deserved and overdue pay raise making pay for being a Bradley County deputy competitive for the first time in years.
"I also took $863,000 of top-heavy management positions and created 12 patrol, five detective, and six corrections/judicial services positions," he said."I equipped our officers with newer vehicles and state-of-the-art digital technology bringing the sheriff’s office into the 21st century with a continuing eye on the ever-changing world law enforcement faces to tackle a growing crime rate.
"There is now a robust and improved School Resource Officer program and hundreds of students have been turned away from drugs and alcohol as a result of keeping my promise to restore the DARE program.
"There are community watches across the county which have a constant support system through the sheriff’s office. That program has already resulted in lives saved.
"Senior citizens now have an extra security system with the establishment of our Senior Visitation Unit.
"Today, the vehicles of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office are proudly emblazoned with our national motto, 'In God We Trust.' Chaplains have more access to inmates than ever before. Prison ministries are welcomed and encouraged. And faith-based programs are saving lives and reducing the recidivism rate," Watson said.
"In 2014, the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office took the new direction I promised. Where has it led us?
"To the most important item: Never before in the history of this department have more criminals been caught and more crimes been solved. Just in my second year in office, we solved more crime and made more arrests than any other year in BCSO history. That’s because of the hard work of the employees and with my addition of 17 new positions to patrol and CID with the restructuring of the department I created.
"The numbers are on record and the awards and recognitions from the local, state and Federal levels are there to prove it.
"Even better, all of this has been accomplished without asking for any tax increase.
"All of these successes have required changes and change is often uncomfortable and unwelcome no matter how necessary.
"Change also requires some hard decisions and someone who understands hard decisions are part of the job and must be taken for the greater good.
"On May 1, Bradley County has the choice.
"We can choose to go back to an old way of thinking with more cost, less efficiency, and no results.
"Or we can choose to continue on that new direction, one that has made a positive change, not only in how law enforcement works, but in how it strives to be a positive force and partner with the people it so proudly serves.
"Serving as the sheriff of Bradley County these past four years, I have been examined by every conceivable agency – both personally and professionally," Watson said.
"Never before in its history has a candidate for this office been more thoroughly vetted with a clean and positive outcome.
"I have been tested by fire and forged by faith.
"The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is not just on a new direction, it’s on the right direction.
"More service. Better results. No tax increase. Lives saved.
"There has been too much accomplished to turn back and I proudly announce my candidacy for the Republican Party nomination to serve another term as your sheriff.
"It will be my highest honor to ask you to cast your vote for Eric Watson for sheriff during the May 1, 2018, county primary.
"Please come visit my campaign headquarters at 2845 Keith St., next door to the Arby’s restaurant, to pick up signs, T-shirts, and bumper stickers.
"On Saturday, Feb. 3, at 6 p.m. at Oak Grove School, my campaign will have a community chili supper. Entertainment will be provided by the up and coming “New Day” bluegrass group."
For more information, visit my website www.ericwatson.net.
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