Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd made multiple stops in Cleveland Wednesday afternoon, gathering facts, answering questions and forming ideas.Boyd faced a gathering of city and county law …
Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd made multiple stops in Cleveland Wednesday afternoon, gathering facts, answering questions and forming ideas.
Boyd faced a gathering of city and county law enforcement employees at the Bradley County Justice Center, the roundtable discussion set up by Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson.
Boyd and his campaign staff later visited the Lee University campus.
At the justice center, Boyd told county and city officers that he is a businessman and entrepreneur, and he believes this is what is needed in Nashville.
"I know about employees and jobs, but I know very little about law enforcement," he admitted. "But, I'm trying to learn. I've visited more than 50 sheriff's offices across the state (in this effort)."
The candidate for governor and former leader of the Department of Economic and Community Development said he has come up with several ideas (related to law enforcement), and he wanted to bounce some of them off the local officials.
Watson had invited a number of his administrative staff, and others. Cleveland Police Chief Mark Gibson was in attendance, along with information officer Evie West, and others.
The group of about 30 officers applauded Boyd's first "idea," which was that the state increase assistance to city and county law enforcement agencies with supplemental pay and increased funding for training.
"In Tennessee, we provide $600 for training of law enforcement officers, while Kentucky provides $3,600," he emphasized. "We can do what Kentucky does!"
Boyd went on to discuss his business history, and experience in state government. He has served current Gov. Bill Haslam on a high-education panel, and as the state TDEC commissioner.
The Knoxville native said he did not accept a salary in either of these former state positions, and he will not accept pay as governor. He said it is his way of giving back. "I've been given so much," he said of his life, his family, and his business successes.
Boyd grew up in South Knoxville, in the South-Young neighborhood, and says he has always been an entrepreneur. He has 30 patents, admitting few have value. Perhaps the most valuable is "The Invisible Fence," which is sold worldwide.
The fence is popular across the nation and around the world to safely curtail dogs or other pets.
Another asset, which is not widely known, is that Boyd and his family own two minor league baseball teams in East Tennessee, the Knoxville Smokies and the Johnson City Cardinals.
He adds that he is a runner, and has already crossed the state (from Johnson City to Memphis and the Mississippi) in a promotional event.
Boyd said he has competed in 36 full marathons and 50 half-marathons, which would likely placed him the the elite class of the nation's runners.
Boyd said "This is a great time for Tennessee, although 19 of the state's 95 counties are currently distressed."
"I want to make Tennessee a state of opportunity, and strive to provide our high school students with the opportunity to get a job," he said, supporting the idea the state needs more vocational education training centers.
"If we can give our kids a better education, and the possibility of obtaining a high-paying jobs, it will lessen our crime rate," Boyd told Wednesday's gathering of law enforcement personnel.
"I want to make Tennessee the best place in the Southeast for quality jobs," the former TDEC commissioner said.
He said he is also concerned with much of what he's hearing from sheriffs and other law enforcement officials across the state, such as Jim Berrong in Blount County. "It seems it's difficult to recruit and retain employees in law enforcement," he said.
He said he is also concerned with truth in sentencing of offenders, and the fact county officers are charged with transporting people with mental problems.
"These people need to be transported by people trained with mental disabilities, and confined in facilities other than our jails," he said. This comment also drew applause from county officers, who must deal with this responsibility.
In closing, Boyd said he is not just campaigning for a job. "I'm campaigning to get some things done," he emphasized. "Nothing will get done, if we don't continue to talk about it," he added.
Also discussed Wednesday was the state's opioid situation, the difference of benefits for patrol deputies and corrections officers, the crowding of jails and justice center across the state , and the lack of timeliness in processing paperwork in the justice system.
Sheriff Watson is hopeful other candidates for public office will participate in future round-table discussions with the community's law enforcement agencies.
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