I have mentioned this before, most successful career deputies believe it is a calling to serve the public. It can be the same with teachers, people in the medical field, the ministry, or any other career with the opportunity to serve others.
Consequently, they are willing to seek the education and training which will take them to their career goals. So, sacrifices are willingly made to become proficient in this field of service. I would say that this attitude is exemplified by our people at the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.
As I think of this commitment our deputies and staff do have for the protection and safety of the people in Bradley County, I realize something else.
That is, as sheriff, along with the residents of the county, I should be committed to all of our employees, as a public servant. We expect commitment and dedication from our deputies, but they also expect our commitment to them.
If we are going to be honest, we should honor the “Golden Rule” in our employer/employee relationship. In our community we see this type relationship in our local, national, and international companies. Their human resource professionals try to hire the best educated, trained and reputable people available. Then, in turn these forward thinking companies are committed to their employees by paying a good wage and by providing a benefit package that is fair and equitable.
In this type situation, the morale is high, the employees are more productive and the work environment is one where the people look forward to coming to work each day. Corporate heads do not like a lot of turnover and unrest within their employees. It is very costly and is not a recipe for continued success.
It is the same in law enforcement.
At the Sheriff’s Office we are studying how we can best serve the taxpayers of Bradley County. We have been talking individually with our people, taking suggestions and information we have received in surveys both inside and outside of our agency.
We are also working on a permanent career track for our employees that will serve them and the county throughout their careers. This will help keep our professional law enforcement officers centered on their job here in Bradley County. They will advance through this agency on their merits, even if the administration changes. So, in effect, we are seeking to address our present problems, as we develop a Sheriff’s Office that is second to none.
Currently, we are addressing a gasoline spike, which can have a devastating effect on our budget. We are working on this problem, as I write this column.
We have taken steps to save on fuel and we are already seeing benefits from it. So, from time to time, through no fault of our own, there are budget busting emergencies that occur.
Bradley County is being blessed as new job creating businesses move here. Some expect a business boom to start here soon. This is wonderful news, but on the flip side of growth is that it presents many new challenges in law enforcement. When such growth as we are expecting occurs, we cannot go about as if it is going to be business as usual. We can’t live in temporary denial of what’s coming. We must face these challenges head on and take care of the present as we prepare for the future.
I want to take a bold step and make a commitment to our professional deputies who are doing their best to keep our neighborhoods safe. My senior staff and I are beginning the process of working on the next fiscal year’s budget for the Sheriff’s Office. We all are taxpayers, as well as employees of the county, so we will be presenting a budget that is lean and mean, so to speak. We will try to leave off the fat and submit a budget that has been thoroughly studied and with the facts honestly presented.
A few years ago it was intimated the Sheriff’s Office personnel would be brought up over a three- year period to parity in pay with agencies around us.
As of yet that has not happened.
So, our budget will include a request that will bring this about, incrementally, over the twelve months of the next budget cycle. Our deputies are doing the work as well or better than most agencies. Statistics will show this is true. It is a fact that a sheriff and his deputies have greater responsibilities than most any other law enforcement agency. We have more tasks to accomplish and more area to cover.
As the economy begins to pick up this year, I do not want our greatest asset, our people to look for opportunities with other agencies to make more money with better benefits. They are committed to their community, but they also feel an obligation to their families to do their best toward them. Again, this type thing, losing good, trained personnel is very costly to the county.
In the last snow storm at least a couple of our deputies had to use their own 4-wheel drive vehicles for us to adequately cover the county and answer calls for service. We are working to stop that through fixing another confiscated 4 x 4 or two as we are able to do so.
I want Bradley Countians to know we are doing our best and will continue to do our best with what is provided for us. I am proud of our people here at the sheriff’s office and believe in them.
I feel about them sort of like one of the Air Force’s sayings, “The difficult we do now, the impossible takes a little longer.”