When he got there he observed what turned out to be a 13-year-old boy on roller skates, attempting to cross the flooded area.
As has already been reported in the Cleveland Daily Banner, the boy was swept off the road by the raging water and was clinging to a tree in the rain-swollen Candies Creek to keep from being swept away.
Long showed up to back up Rogers and together they rescued the boy from the creek. During the rescue, Long at one point was in chest-high water, nearly being swept away himself.
Thank God these deputies were in the right place at the right time. I have written of such incidents before where a deputy has come along in the nick of time to avert certain tragedy.
This is one more incident that underscores the need to have deputies nearby all the citizens of Bradley County at all times. This is the raw edge of our commitment to protect and serve. I suppose we are to the county taxpayers what the Defense Department is to the U.S. taxpayers. We keep the peace, serve and protect here, while they do so for the nation.
Interestingly, a recent report listed Tennessee as one of the top four states in the U.S. in which to retire. The only downside to that was that of the four “best,” Tennessee has the worst crime rate. I know that Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and maybe Knoxville’s crime statistics run the statewide average up. Yet, with that said, there are signs of increased criminal activity in rural areas and small towns as well.
I have spoken often of keeping Bradley a safe place to work and play. I believe it can be done. We can be that isle of safety as crime encroaches on our neighbors. I believe we have the law-enforcement superstructure in place in Bradley County. We are at a point in our history that we have tried to learn from the successes and failures of my predecessors.
We believe we have morphed their successes into our present-day policies and are leaving behind those things that we have outgrown. This is not a criticism of past sheriff’s administrations. On the contrary, I appreciate what those men and their administrators brought to the table.
I can speak of the contributions each one has made to our community in the last 40 years. I, too, want to add to the betterment of Bradley County during my watch.
We have deputies who have served under the last four, maybe five sheriffs. They add to the institutional memory bank of the Sheriff’s Office because of their having served so long under various sheriffs.
Those of us with long experience have observed good families who have good children and grandchildren who have become good citizens. The same deputies have, also, chased the bad guy, his children and often his grandchildren as well. Some of these old bad guys have mellowed out in their graying years and will even throw up their hands in greeting when we pass by them.
We have had some very good deputies over the years. It seems we have always been shorthanded though. The late Gene Trewhitt, a retired assistant chief with the Cleveland Fire Department, commented several years ago that he was the second deputy sheriff to be hired. Before he was hired the then-Bradley County sheriff had only one deputy. Gene was later a constable before he joined the fire department.
Today it is imperative that we keep up with the rapid growth in the county and have a large enough staff. We must, also, address the disparity in pay. We lost another longtime, experienced deputy in the last month to the Cleveland Police Department. It looks like we may lose more.
We need two things this year to keep our crime-fighting team moving forward. One is to reinstate the merit pay plan that was ditched several years ago. This would go a long way toward keeping our good, trained and experienced people. The other thing is to do everything possible to see that we have enough deputies to cover the whole county at all times.
I have said it before that we can stem the tide of criminal activity. Just give me enough deputies and pay them a fair wage and Mayberry will continue to exist here in Southeast Tennessee.
Thanks for reading.