Bradley County Sheriff-elect Eric Watson has announced two members of his command staff and the remainder will be named over the next few days, including the position of chief deputy.
U.S. Army veteran and former Corrections Capt. Gabe Thomas has been selected as the new captain of Corrections and Judicial Services; and Richard McAllister, formerly of Moridge Manufacturing Inc., has been named the new director of Support Services for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.
Released late Tuesday evening, Watson’s annou-ncement pointed out Thomas’ appointment co-mbines “... two critically important divisions of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office under one leader [and that] will result in a more efficient use of departmental resources.”
He added, “The job will require a person with truly unique experience in both areas.”
Of McAllister’s selection to manage BCSO’s budget process, Watson explained, “Finding one uniquely qualified person to effectively manage budgets totaling more than $14 million, as well as being qualified to research and analyze complicated legal issues, would seem an impossibility. But, I am proud to announce I have just such a person joining my new administration.”
Watson provided detailed information about each of his appointments.
Capt. Gabe Thomas
Thomas will begin his new BCSO role Sept. 1, the same day that Watson takes the oath of office as new Bradley County sheriff, according to a press release authorized by Watson.
“There is no one I know who can bring Gabe's vast experience and training in both corrections and judicial services to the table like he does,” Watson said. “He is the most qualified person I know of to head up this new division.”
A 1994 graduate of Bradley Central High School, Thomas' law enforcement career began in 1998, as a corrections officer with BCSO, and over the span of 11 years he was promoted to every ranking supervisory position in the Corrections Division. He was named Corrections Captain in 2006, a post he held for four years.
In 2010, Thomas steered his career in a different direction when he transferred to the Patrol Division where he became a certified patrol deputy. This move led to his current assignment in the Judicial Services Division as part of the department's Fugitive Warrant Team.
During his 15-year tenure with BCSO, Thomas has had extensive training in jail operations and corrections management. Some of his specialized training has included: Criminal Law, Crises Intervention, Self-Defense Tactics, Search and Seizure Procedures, Suicide Prevention, Inmate Behavior Modification, Jail Safety and Security, and Conflict Resolution.
In addition, Thomas is a graduate of the FBI Instructor Development School, and he holds FBI certification as a firearms instructor. He is also a graduate of the Cleveland State Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy and is certified by the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission. He and his family attend North Cleveland Church of God.
Thomas holds certification from both the U.S. Department of Justice National Institute of Corrections and the Tennessee Corrections Institute as a certified Jail Administrator. He is also a graduate of the Tennessee Law Enforcement Executive Development School sponsored by the FBI and the state of Tennessee.
Thomas' service in the U.S. Army began after high school graduation in 1994, and he was assigned to the 19 K Armor Division, being stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, until being honorably discharged from the service in 1998.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Judicial Services Division, but it will be a dream-come-true for me to head up Corrections once again,” Thomas said. “I have learned a lot regarding court services and court security over the past five years, and I feel I can effectively manage both Corrections and Judicial Services with the help of some very fine officers.”
Of his decision to merge two BCSO operations, Watson pointed out, “Combining these two divisions will give us more resources to utilize to make both functions more efficient, but it will take a special person to make it work. I have no doubt Gabe is the right person to make it work, and I am proud to have him on my leadership team.”
Like Thomas, McAllister will assume his new role as director of Support Services for BCSO on Sept. 1, once Watson is sworn in as Bradley County sheriff.
McAllister has been employed by Moridge Manufacturing, Inc., since 1990, and has been responsible for budgeting and procurement of an enterprise that has exceeded $20 million in revenue.
Other duties performed by McAllister included the development of networks and relationships that secured contracts with many government agencies on the local, state and federal levels throughout this region.
McAllister also worked as a senior auditor in the procurement division of General Motors Corporation in Atlanta, where he was responsible for writing policy and procedures for purchasing, as well as tracking for adherence to accepted policy. He also was responsible for revising purchasing policies for General Motors as necessary for efficient operations, according to Watson’s public statement.
“What makes Richard so uniquely qualified for the position of director of support services for BCSO is his extensive professional work experience, combined with a formal education that truly sets him apart from all others I considered for this critically important job,” Watson said.
McAllister is a 1979 graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School of Law located at Georgia State University in Atlanta, where he was awarded a juris doctor degree. Prior to graduation from law school, McAllister received a bachelor’s of business administration degree with a major in managerial economics and a minor in accounting from Georgia State University in 1975. Both degrees were earned with honors from Georgia State University, according to the Watson press release.
He and his wife attend Mount Olivet Methodist Church.
“Richard’s professional and educational background are more than enough to qualify him for this position, but in addition, he is also a proud veteran of the United States Coast Guard, having served our country as an aviation machinist and air crewman, and distinguishing himself as an instructor in leadership and preparedness training for natural disaster response,” Watson said.
In the personnel announcement, McAllister said he is eager to get started in his role with the BCSO and Watson’s command staff.
“I am pleased to be coming home to serve alongside our new sheriff and the professional command staff he is assembling for his new administration,” McAllister said. “I am very happy to accept this opportunity to give something worthwhile back to a wonderful community that has been so good to me over the years.”
Watson expressed confidence in McAllister’s ability to lead the BCSO’s budget-management process.
“I do not believe any law enforcement agency in this state can boast of having a more qualified person to oversee its budget and other complicated matters within their respective department,” the sheriff-elect said. “I am proud to bring Richard on as part of my leadership team. I have full faith and confidence he will do an outstanding job.”