Raising the norm: Reaching for excellence
by Jim Ruth Bradley County Sheriff
Jan 19, 2014 | 705 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There are about 102,000 opinions of what is expected of your Sheriff’s Office. Most of our folks hold that the BCSO should patrol the neighborhoods and commercial establishments to keep these places safe from burglars and those who would bring personal harm.

Most of the people expect our deputies to respond very quickly to their emergency calls to the 911 Center. Seconds can seem like an hour as they anxiously await the flashing blue lights to arrive on the scene. They do not want to hear that all the deputies are occupied working on other calls.

The average resident wants the Sheriff’s Office to vigorously enforce the traffic laws. That is until they or their loved one are cited for a violation. Believe it or not, we have been chided for not enforcing the traffic laws in a neighborhood only to stop the very complainant for speeding.

Several years ago, there was a lady who was involved in a minor fender-bender who came to complain that the deputy did not issue the other party a ticket. The supervisor explained the deputy was trying to show a little grace to the other person who did not have the best-paying job. The lady still insisted that the other person be cited.

The supervisor told the deputy to cite the person and also to write a ticket to the lady who was complaining as well. She had also violated the traffic laws and was equally at fault.

The residents of Bradley County expect our deputies to be competent and confident, this mixed with a little humility. They also expect honesty and integrity from our deputies.

It was interesting the other night when one of the TV stations in Chattanooga asked three different young men what qualities they want in the newest Chattanooga police chief. Honesty was at the top of the list of all three. I find that desire for honesty to be most refreshing and it gives me more hope for the coming generations.

The taxpayer also wants a Sheriff’s Office that listens, that can communicate and that looks the part. Our residents have expressed their pleasure in having a very sharp and professional honor guard. These deputies have had special training and do Bradley Countians proud in wearing their sharply creased uniforms and black berets (in honor of all our service men and women, past and present). You see the pride of this squad as they go through their drills with precision to honor others, dead and alive.

Our quest for excellence builds morale with our troops. All of us are affirmed in our personhood and worthiness when we are part of a group or organization that is known to stand out in their field.

Of course, the taxpayer ultimately wins by receiving good, cost-effective service.

Our residents still expect deputies to escort funeral processions and, at times, jump-start stalled cars and unlock car doors. Vehicle security, locking and electronic systems are more sensitive than ever before, so we open car doors at the owner’s own peril.

A couple of our deputies interacted with the senior deputies from a large Southern sheriff’s office in Mississippi and learned that this 2,000-plus person agency also provided these services.

One of their majors said, “We will always lead funeral processions, unlock car doors and jump-start stalled cars. The people expect it, so we are going to do it.”

Just as we go through the express lane at the grocery store or through the take-out window of a fast food restaurant, we want to go quickly. We are disappointed when our expectation is not met. Quick service is the norm.

Expecting the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office to be professional, being there in an emergency and getting the job done right the first time has become the expectation of our residents as we continue to strive for the mark of excellence.

P.S. — Congratulations to David Bishop, Cleveland’s new police chief. Chief Bishop has served Cleveland a long time and should continue to serve Cleveland well in this new assignment.

Thanks for reading.