Sheriff's Office: Cyclical trends
by Jim Ruth Bradley County Sheriff
Mar 10, 2013 | 1125 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

“The difference between an optimist and a pessimist is that the pessimist is usually better informed” — Clare Boothe Luce, journalist.

Different social issues and societal problems occupy the collective mind of our taxpaying residents in southeast Tennessee from time to time.

The demand for jobs, new roads, new schools, and beefing up of public safety efforts seems to run in cycles.

According to a commentator covering the election of city officials in Chattanooga, law enforcement needs are beginning to cycle to the forefront of the public’s thinking again. I agree with that assumption based on comments I receive on a regular basis.

More and more is being said about public safety needs being adequately met locally as unprecedented growth is taking place. With that growth, we are also attracting some undesirable criminals.

We, who have been born and raised in Bradley County, have enjoyed living in a relatively safe community and have taken this fact for granted. Many retirees and people with small children moved here, in large part, because of this very reputation. But they are seeing that life of safety as being threatened.

I try to listen to residents, law enforcement professionals and local office-holders as well. There are a growing number of folks expressing their concern about public safety needs. That includes personal safety – our gun permit classes are always filled; school safety – protecting our children; and traffic safety. I mentioned a few weeks ago that traffic deaths are at an all-time high across the state of Tennessee, Bradley County and the city of Cleveland.

One observer who has made studying local and state politics a hobby for the last few decades predicts that public safety/law enforcement will be at the forefront of all issues for our county and state offices in the next election. He has predicted a number of political trends before and has been right on the mark.

If this gentleman is correct on this prediction of what the taxpayer is calling for, then why not get the job started this year and take the pall of politics out of it? Our decision-makers can make their commitments for a good, responsive government without all the hoopla associated with an election.

I have kept our readers apprised of the “predictors” of criminal activities that Bradley County would face and is facing. Thus far, we have been right on target. Your Sheriff’s Office has risen to the challenge of the meth problem, school safety, traffic fatalities, and the increased potential of home burglaries. I have told the Bradley Countians of the alarming number of experienced criminals being paroled every month to our streets.

Studies show that a very high percentage of these felons will quickly return to their burglaries, drug dealing, assaults, and all manner of crimes.

After studying all the facts, a prudent individual will come to the same conclusion that law enforcement experts already know: To keep a decent level of peace and safety for Cleveland, Charleston and Bradley County, our guard is going to have to be raised a little higher.

We need our local leaders to turn their full attention to this need, this year. We are losing ground each budget cycle as the public’s safety is ignored.

Many of our residents are taking notice.

A few years ago, the County Commission gave assent to the Sheriff’s Office to apply for a grant from the Federal Government to fund most of the cost of three new deputies. This year, the federal grant was approved for funding of one new deputy on the basis that it be an Armed Services veteran. The County Commission then voted against this grant and denied funding of the small amount the County would be required to pay. Now, a few months later, they are scrambling to find money to hire a School Resource Officer (SRO) for a small school, Goal Academy, on Sunset.

What am I trying to say? I am saying that we, at the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, are going about the business of public safety in a very professional, cost-effective, business-like way. We work at this every day. When we present our projections and needs, it is based on the best information available to us. We try not to exaggerate or embellish the need.

We are very much aware of local economics; we pay the same bills and have the same financial obligations as our neighbors. We also have experience and insight on what it takes to maintain the right level of law enforcement in your corner of the world.

Thanks for reading.