“As I look over the past three years as your sheriff, I am confident that we have effectively met many challenges that have come our way, including our response to snow and ice storms as well as the destruction of several areas of our county by tornadoes. We have been there to help, to provide safety and security for people and their property,” Ruth said in a prepared statement.
Below is the full text of the incumbent’s announcement:
“I want to thank you for electing me sheriff in 2010. During this term, we have come a long way in making the Sheriff’s Office more professional.
“So, I am asking you to allow me to serve another term as your sheriff. I am asking for your support and vote to re-elect me in the May primary, which is likely to determine who the sheriff will be. I certainly have worked to gain your continued confidence and trust in me during this first term. I have made significant progress in changing the culture of the Sheriff’s Office.
“For 41 years now, I have been a law enforcement officer in Bradley County. This is not just a political claim or wishful thinking; I have actually been on the job full-time. I have a lot invested in all aspects of law enforcement in Bradley County. I have served in all the deputy sheriff roles that I now lead and hope to continue leading for the next term of office. My primary concern is for effective and efficient law enforcement. I want you, the citizens of Bradley County, to know that I will never make exaggerated statements to mislead you about the state of crime and justice in Bradley County, and I will never make outlandish promises about what I will accomplish as sheriff.
“Consider all candidates’ reasons for wanting to be sheriff and decide who is really interested in serving the community and whether or not candidates have the knowledge, skills and ability to introduce and implement improved policies and programs. My contention is that my opponent could not possibly do that.
“Managing the Sheriff’s Office in the 21st century not only requires vision (knowing the right direction to lead), but also requires efficiency in operations. We have worked to save money where we can and purchase only those things necessary to improve service and enforcement efforts. We are saving significant amounts of money by purchasing more fuel efficient vehicles for patrol and prisoner transport. These savings will increase as more of the older, less fuel efficient vehicles are replaced. I will continue to look for ways to save taxpayer money without sacrificing effectiveness.
“Managing effectively also requires setting high standards for employee performance, and following up on those standards with supervision to ensure that standards are being met and that tasks are completed properly.
“During this term, I have repeatedly sought better pay for our deputies through a performance-based merit pay plan. The purpose of this is to keep our good, experienced, well-trained deputies from seeking better-paying jobs with other local, state or federal agencies. Such a plan would reduce turnover and the associated high costs of hiring, training and equipping a continuous flow of new employees. This expensive turnover has been the case as long as I have been in law enforcement and has squandered a lot of money that could have been better spent on other public safety measures. In addition to improved pay, I have tried to create a professional work environment where employees are rewarded for performance and productivity, where morale is high and employees look forward to coming to work each day.
“I will continue to take the ‘moral high ground’ in leading the Sheriff’s office. I am committed to maintain a strong sense of morality, character and integrity in all that we do. I pledge to always be truthful, sincere, upright and decent. I would like for Bradley County citizens to know the Mission and Vision that we have implemented to provide clear direction for our employees:
“It is the Mission of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office to provide quality, professional law enforcement to the residents and visitors of Bradley County. We believe that no one in our community should live in fear.
“It is the Vision of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office to be a leader in public safety, community service and crime prevention. We will strive to develop the community policing philosophy of building partnerships and problem solving methods with our residents. It is the goal and purpose of our deputies that Bradley County be an enjoyable and safe community in which to live, work and visit.’
“Among the efforts we are making to instill these concepts into the fabric of the organization is the introduction of the state-of-the-art Police Training Officer program for new deputies. The PTO program replaces an older Field Training Officer program that evaluated recruits on the performance of various tasks. The new PTO program uses progressive training methods to teach recruits how to use the skills they learned in the police academy to work with citizens to solve problems in the community.
“We have also implemented Intelligence-Led Policing, an innovative concept to better analyze crime statistics and other data to provide a better picture of where and when our resources should be deployed. It is already enabling us to work smarter, sharing information with the right people in the agency on a timely basis to identify and apprehend criminals and prevent crime when possible.
“I take the safety of our children very seriously, not only as a law enforcement professional, but also as a father and grandfather. That is why we now have a School Resource Officer assigned to every county school. There are very few agencies in the state that can match our SRO program.
“We also value our older citizens, and take their safety and well-being seriously. We have continued to make senior citizen visits to those that live alone.
“Crime is a community problem, not just a law enforcement problem, and with that in mind I have worked to help citizens take action against the potential for crime in their neighborhoods. We have helped neighborhoods organize Neighborhood Watch programs during this term of office. Many neighborhoods have embraced the program and are working together to report suspicious activity and to make their homes and communities safer.
“I have also continued the Tennessee Handgun Permit training program at the Sheriff’s Office, where I have taught the class since the early 1990s. We have helped many thousands complete the training to obtain their permits and learn about handgun safety. These citizens have the ability to protect themselves and can now feel safer and more secure. This complements the law enforcement mission to keep people safe.
“As I look over the past three years as your sheriff, I am confident that we have effectively met many challenges that have come our way, including our response to snow and ice storms as well as the destruction of several areas of our county by tornadoes. We have been there to help, to provide safety and security for people and their property. We responded aggressively and successfully to every complaint of looting and pilfering. Then, there were six tragic homicides that occurred during my first couple of years as sheriff. We solved all of these homicides and prosecuted the offenders. Our deputies work purposefully to make you and your families safer in your homes, schools, public places and travels throughout Bradley County. Our uniformed officers, investigative personnel, and correctional officers are getting the job done. Our working relationship with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies is better than any time since I have been in law enforcement. Our clearance rates for reported crimes are above the state and national averages, well above them in some categories.
“But this does not mean that I am satisfied with these results. Real leaders can’t be content to rest on their laurels, and we are always looking for ways to prevent crime, as well as solve more of the crimes that do occur. There is always room for improvement.
“Under my direction we have increased our efforts to reduce recidivism in our jail. We have increased our faith-based programs, started a GED program, provided training to inmates on how to apply for and prepare for employment upon release, provided better food service and medical service, and have made sure that the jail remains certified though seriously overcrowded. We are working with the District Attorneys office to find ways to alleviate overcrowding.
“As you may already know, and as I stated I would, I have required adherence by our deputies to the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, to our policies and procedures, and to the state laws. I have held our people accountable for their violations of policy, their misdeeds and their deceit. I have required regular training in ethics and annual updates on our state laws.
“Again, I ask you to consider all candidates’ reasons for wanting to be sheriff. Decide who is honest, straightforward and trustworthy. Then decide who will be best protect and serve you.
“Again, I ask for your vote and support.”