Editor’s note: Two articles are planned based on an interview with Bradley County Sheriff-Elect Steve Lawson. Today’s article covers Lawson’s activities since the May 1 election and his plans for taking office on Sept. 1. An article in Thursday’s newspaper will focus on Lawson’s plan and vision for the sheriff’s office.
(Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series featuring a recent one-on-one interview with Bradley County Sheriff-Elect Steve Lawson. Today's installment focuses on Lawson's activities since the May 1 election, and Thursday's will highlight his plan and vision for the sheriff's office.)
After a hard-fought campaign to garner the Republican nomination for Bradley County sheriff, Steve Lawson has enjoyed stepping back from the political fray. However, he has remained busy planning for the day he takes office.
But first there’s the matter of the Aug. 2 Bradley County General Election to consider. With no Democratic opponent, and a successful write-in campaign unlikely, Lawson has had the opportunity to plan for the future without the additional pressure of continuing his campaign.
Lawson said with no opponent in the Aug. 2 election it feels good to have time to prepare for when he takes office.
“The election’s over,” Lawson said, adding it is time to move forward with doing what’s best for Bradley County.
Lawson said he looks forward to serving as sheriff.
“I’m blessed to have been elected to serve the people of Bradley County,” Lawson said. “I’ll never forget that.”
Lawson noted this election is not his first time to run for office and he reiterated promises made on the campaign trail, like how he will be on the job every day and not embarrass the citizens.
“As sheriff you have good days and bad days,” Lawson said, adding he will deal with both during his tenure.
As for the bad days, Lawson said “you face them and go on.”
Among those “bad days” Lawson is preparing for concerns lawsuits and insurance claims filed against the sheriff’s office. Lawson said he knows he will “inherit” lawsuits from multiple previous administrations when he takes office and he has plans to “get on the front end” of inspection issues at the Bradley County Jail. He hopes to “shut down” some of the lawsuits by being proactive and training personnel how to avoid issues that could lead to litigation.
Also, Lawson said he has some ideas and understands the need to hold people accountable for their job duties and performance.
“We’re absolutely going to get better in the jail in some of the lawsuits that come out of there,” he said, adding he expects many issues will get better with training and a focus to “slow down and make sure we’re doing the right thing.”
As part of making sure he and his staff know what the “right thing” is, Lawson will be going to New Sheriff School for two weeks at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy.
And, while serving as sheriff will be new ground for Lawson, working in the law enforcement field is not. Lawson began his service with the BCSO in 1976 and moved up through the ranks as a patrol deputy, detective, and supervisor in both the Patrol and Criminal Investigations Divisions. He was promoted to captain of CID in 1987 and then took a break from law enforcement from 1988 to 2006 while working in the private sector. He returned to the sheriff’s office in 2006 to serve as captain and head up the Criminal Investigation Division.
In 2010, Lawson was selected to become the director of the 10th Judicial Drug Task Force, and remained there until 2014 when he again returned to BCSO to become captain of the Criminal Investigation Division.
As he prepares to take office, Lawson has formed a transition team and tasked members with assisting him in preparation to take over the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office in September. Each transition team member was selected by Lawson, who will rely on their recommendations concerning top staffing choices, policy and budget issues. They are:
• Steve Crump – 10th Judicial District Attorney General
• Jeff Yarber – 5th District Bradley County commissioner and Law Enforcement Committee chairman
• Amanda Lee – 6th District Bradley County Schools
• Dan Howell – 22nd District Tennessee State Representative
• Craig Hamilton – former BCSO deputy
• Stacy Smith – Cleveland Police Department, captain
• Bob Johnson – BCSO (retired)
• Dan Gilley – former Bradley County sheriff
• Adam Lewis – public relations coordinator
• Pastor Gary Sears – Chaplain
• Chase Lawson and Connie Lawson
The transition team’s mission statement is: Partnering with community and law enforcement leaders to strengthen the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, through effective planning, execution, and transparency.
Lawson expressed his appreciation to the group for serving, and welcomed their expertise, while at the same time explaining “the final decision rests with me.”
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