We started the first day. We also recognized from the start we would have some tough decisions to make. Some of the old ways, old customs, must be changed. To provide the very best leadership, the old ideas, the “spoils” system, must give way to insightful, educated, competent leaders with unquestioned Integrity. Leaders who were dedicated to the profession, who weren’t motivated by a selfish or a self-serving agenda.
We were determined we would not allow the integrity of the department to be compromised by anyone who compromised their own integrity for any personal or political consideration.
We also recognized that some of the criticisms of the department, by both our residents and the criminal justice communit,y were well-founded.
Among the criticisms were keeping information secure, gossip/rumor-mongering or general professional integrity. Good ol’ boy attitudes still showed themselves.
We began immediately to take needed steps to change this reputation. We determined every decision we make must be in favor of our department and our community.
To the tough decisions: Some of those who were sewing discord, compromising information, cheating on their time (or “double dipping”) and undermining our efforts to professionalize were summarily discharged or disciplined. Those with integrity issues were discharged.
There was an immediate expression of relief by the dedicated members of our department over the discharge of some.
Many commented to me, “Finally, a sheriff who does the right thing — no matter who is involved.”
Some of these disgruntled former employees are still spreading rumors and gossip in an attempt to undermine the dedicated, sincere people of the department.
As one senior employee observed: “Better on the outside than on the inside still causing more problems.”
Some are even making noise about running for the office. That’s good, that’s what they ought to do. I agree with Freeh — “If we are to be enforcers of the law, we must first be upholders of it.”
As the election season approaches, I believe we have accomplished many of the goals we set out with. Our department is more unified. We have sincere, dedicated commanders in place with the common goal of keeping our Bradley residents safe.
We have an enthusiasm and energy that I’ve not seen before by this office. We’ve rebuilt bridges to others in the law enforcement community. I don’t believe there’s ever been a better spirit of cooperation with our local and federal fellow crime fighters.
Yes, we have some detractors. But I think you’ll find they are the same who’ve already failed when it comes to integrity and professional suitability and trust for this important office.
We have some of the finest young men and women to build a future on. We’ve made great progress and I’m convinced we’re moving toward being the best we can be for Bradley County.
Thanks for reading.