The famous evangelist Billy Graham wrote a pamphlet years ago that spoke of absolutes, rigid natural laws that cannot be compromised or broken. He explained that water freezes at 32 degrees and boils at 212 degrees. He used other examples of absolutes as he examined the dangers of compromise.
There are certain absolutes that must be followed in everything we do in this life.
So it is at the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office. When honesty and integrity, the very basic tenets of law enforcement, are compromised it must be dealt with immediately. When such behavior isn’t, it is like garbage in the house that is not carried out, it begins to rot and the stench permeates the whole house.
Sometimes these problems can be handled discreetly so that innocent people are not unnecessarily disturbed or scarred.
Other times the lapses of integrity or outright criminal activity have an all-out public airing and it stinks to high heaven, so to speak. This very negative event or events must turn into a positive action.
In such an event, there are always people who will exploit it for their own reasons. It is sometimes for their political gain. They try tearing down the other guy’s house to build their own.
Other times it is simply to get revenge for some perceived wrong or rebuff they have suffered.
The recent flap about a part-time process server appears more and more that it was used by an ex-employee and, also, a convicted felon to discredit your Sheriff’s Office.
It has already been verified that the email sent to the media was done so using a fraudulent email address. So a fake email, in violation of the law, was used to give erroneous information to the news media.
As with any law-enforcement agency, there is almost always a small group of disgruntled people who give out disinformation to hurt the agency.
I believe I know most by name.
Some say this is human nature. I suppose it is human nature at its worst. At the very least it is less than honorable behavior. Still, I am not willing to compromise the integrity of the Sheriff’s Office to placate anyone. Threats, bad publicity, gossip and innuendoes don’t move me.
The little old lady down at the Holiness Church was fond of saying, “The truth will stand when the world is on fire.”
No, we are not a perfect organization, and I am not a perfect human being, but we all should not use our imperfections as an excuse not to seek better ways to attain perfection.
The virtues of honesty and integrity are the building blocks toward doing what is right.
Thomas Carlyle said, “Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure there is one less rascal in the world.”
Oprah Winfrey said, “Truth allows you to live with integrity. Everything you do and say shows the world who you really are so let it be the truth.”
Compromising, a little here, a little there, is like garbage building up in the kitchen. As the head of this particular house, it is my responsibility to make sure others do not let this stinking garbage of compromise beset all of us.
I have said it several times before: Good, honest people make mistakes. We all are capable of that.
That is forgivable and they are redeemable. But, to knowingly break the law or policies and procedures, and, then, cover it up by lying is unacceptable. I am sure that the public would agree with every decision about a particular employee’s termination if they had all the facts.
In some cases employees have been allowed to resign, instead of being fired. We felt that was the compassionate thing to do. We have let some go that I considered my friends. I take no pleasure in firing anyone, but I am forced by that individual’s behavior.
Too many today think it is clever to beat the system, to cheat or otherwise lie or manipulate others to further their own personal interests. To this person it is old-fashioned to be honest, to work hard and earn your own way.
We must continue to hold the line and toe the mark. As servants of the public we must keep their trust. If a person is not willing to abide by the rules, he or she should not apply. Like the U.S. Marines, we are always looking for a few good men and women.
Just to let you know, you can read any of my articles on the Web at www.bradleysheriff.com to be assured of getting an unedited version.
Thanks for reading.