Hancock said the Sheriff’s Office is currently in the middle of Drug Take Back Week, where local citizens can drop off unwanted and unneeded prescription medicines at the Bradley County Justice Center.
The drugs collected this week will be incinerated, so they won’t get in the community’s drainage system.
Hancock said the Sheriff’s Office is working with the GRAAB Coalition (Going Respectfully Against Addictive Behavior) in the Coalition’s month-long “31 Days of Prevention.” The Drug Take Back is one of many activities promoted by GRAAB this month.
In addition to the Drug Take Back effort, Sheriff Jim Ruth and his officers have launched an effort at the Justice Center to assist Southern Heritage Bank in its annual food drive.
Collection boxes have been strategically placed at the county facility for people to leave nonperishable food items for the drive. Sheriff Ruth has urged local citizens who are dropping off old medicines to also bring a food item to donate.
Hancock emphasized that food collected by the bank each year goes to the less fortunate in Cleveland and Bradley County.
Following his comments on the Drug Take Back and the food collection program, Hancock talked about the Sheriff’s Office’s ongoing effort to set up Neighborhood Watch programs throughout the community.
“It’s organizations like this (the Kiwanis) that it is a pleasure to speak to,” said Hancock as he reminded Kiwanians this is the sixth-month anniversary of the tornadoes which swept through Bradley County April 27, causing millions of dollars in damage and taking nine lives. “We appreciate all the help we received at that time,” he said.
Hancock explained that county deputies who served during and after the storm have received a white-and-blue ribbon with the number 9 to wear on their uniforms. “The white is for the purity of their valor, the blue notes the dark of that night, and the 9 is for the lives we lost,” he said. “If you see a deputy with this ribbon, please express your appreciation for their service.”
The Bradley County officer said the Neighborhood Watch program is a big deal for the Sheriff’s Office. “We want to stop crime on the front end,” he said. “We’ve already organized the program in 22 neighborhoods and want to continue throughout the community.”
“Sheriff Ruth’s goal is to have the entire county illuminated (organized),” Hancock said.
“We need to have assistance and an early warning to have a chance to catch these people with the goods,” Hancock said. “What we’re trying to do is to get intelligence to watch for these crimes in our communities. We want to return a little of the civility of the past, to urge people to meet their neighbors (especially new neighbors).”
“We don’t want you to spy on your neighbors, but to watch for anything (or anyone) out of the ordinary,” Hancock said. “We want people to keep an eye on their neighbor’s property.”
Hancock said many of these burglaries and break-ins are committed by a person (or persons) needing money for drugs (oftentimes for meth). “Anyone on meth is not the same person you may have known before,” Hancock said. “They’ll use your acquaintance to your detriment.”
Hancock emphasized this is one of the busiest times of the year for home thefts. “They’ll steal your Christmas presents,” he said.
The county officer then handed out brochures to show how you can start a Neighborhood Watch unit in your community, and who you should talk with.
“We’re training people to observe and report any possible crime,” Hancock said. “We’ll help you organize a Neighborhood Watch and we’ll answer your questions. Neighborhood Watch is a big emphasis for us at the Sheriff’s Office right now. We’re trying to be proactive.”