The upside, the downside
Jul 07, 2013 | 831 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jim Ruth
Jim Ruth
I have lived long enough to learn to appreciate the strengths of people, and the contributions others have made to enrich my life. I acknowledge from time to time those who have helped to make me a better person.

Most of the time we are not conscious of the positive impact made by those with whom we work and live. Emotional attachments are formed with our co-workers, as a matter of course.

We even form a working relationship with those whose personalities clash with our own. We cover that strongly felt emotion by being diplomatic and courteous to that co-worker, boss, or employee.

That is something that we certainly should do.

Over my 40 years, first as a Cleveland policeman, a short stint as a TVA federal policeman and, then, many years as a deputy sheriff I have seen many people fail. They have failed the oath of office, they have failed and brought reproach on their families and friends.

Overwhelmingly, these were likeable people from good families. Many were talented people who on the spur of the moment sold out for wine, women, song or greed.

There has always been a few who were corrupted.

As a supervisor, I have had to deal with the disciplining and termination of a number of law-enforcement people. As the sheriff, I am still doing the same.

I trust my staff to supervise and discipline, while following the guidelines of our policy and procedures manual. This protocol is continually studied and revised as necessary.

Yet, the buck stops with me.

I try to stay out of the way letting our senior staff do the job they are trained and paid to do. I did not like to be micro-managed and I try to honor that position as sheriff. I do reserve the right to intervene when I believe it is necessary.

I am very saddened by the demotion and the termination of a couple of our senior staff members. There is no bright spot in all of this. However, it is good when they decided to “man-up” when their activities were brought to light.

Some in the past have not done that.

Since I have been elected, I have had to make these hard decisions that can have devastating affects on spouses, children, extended family and friends.

Yet, it must be done to protect the integrity of the sheriff’s office. It saddens me every time, even when the officer breaks the law. I am, also, angry that they have brought reproach on all law-enforcement everywhere.

Personally, I have been called a lot of bad names by my political enemies, and people I have arrested over the years, but all of them with any credibility, will tell you that I am honest and that I will not tolerate corruption. I am grateful for that reputation and will go a long way to defend it.

We have tried to be gracious in our termination of people by letting them quietly resign. I have done this to protect innocent children, spouses and family members. But, some of these fired or resigned employees have shown arrogance by their half-truths and outright lies that they spread. They have thrown this grace I have given them in the mud.

I have had to fire people for in-subordination, common thievery, cheating on their time sheets, lying, abusing county equipment, abusing their power as an officer, conduct unbecoming, and many other things.

Another problem that I have had to deal with since I was elected is that there is always a few not loyal to their oath of enforcing the laws and working hard to detect criminal activity.

They have demonstrated this by their loose lips and gossip. There have been major investigations compromised by two or three deputies getting word to the suspect{s} in undercover investigations. This certainly violates our policy and smacks of corruption.

I will not tolerate this dishonesly. You will be hearing of demotions or terminations, if warranted, after I finish my review of this very egregious type of offense. If you cannot trust the word of a person who makes a living carrying a gun, then who can you trust? Where that trust is lost I, and many others, are working to restore it.

My whole belief system is based on grace, forgiveness, redemption and restoration. On my part I will forgive and help in the restoration of those who have messed up. I will, also, maintain the integrity of the sheriff’s office. At what cost to me? I do not know, but that is my commitment.

There have been too many incidents of misconduct in the last couple of years in law-enforcement locally and across the nation. Someone said that this is just another sign of a deteriorating society.

Maybe, but I do not accept that as a standard for Bradley County. Most law-enforcement people are doing a good job and are walking the walk.

As always, thanks for reading.