Sheriff's Office: Studying, learning and adapting
by Jim Ruth Bradley County Sheriff
Apr 20, 2014 | 481 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print


In the last issue of the sheriffs’ magazine, published by the National Sheriffs’ Association, there was an article about active shooter training. Just like in the old days, a deputy sheriff must be prepared to answer a shooting call quickly and without back-up where the shooting is active and there are people in harm’s way.

In order to save lives the law-enforcement officer must somehow get to the shooter and stop him with whatever force necessary. The officer must take the offensive thereby exposing himself to a life-threatening situation.

The sheriffs’ magazine article stated that the average time the shooter is active is 12.5 minutes. That means the deputy needs to be nearby 24/7, mentally alert and thoroughly trained to get to the shooter safely, quickly and efficiently to take the shooter out of action. That is a tall order. But, quick action does save lives.

Our deputies face many dangerous calls each year that never make the news. The SWAT team is called out more than the general public knows. There are times they are on “stand by” in case a confrontation deteriorates. But, in the case of an active shooter(s) the deputy must always be ready to face them alone.

There is always a danger when a deputy makes a traffic stop, answers a domestic violence call or when he serves certain civil papers. Law-enforcement officers have been ambushed by half-crazed people as they drive in the yard to serve divorce papers, or an eviction notice. Others have barricaded themselves when a deputy comes with an arrest warrant.

People speak of a “routine traffic stop,” but the deputy must not become complacent and think in these terms. Too many have died on the side of the road thinking that way.

Regardless of how calm, cool and collected the officer may be, he/she must always practice the safety measures he was taught in basic police training. Agencies such as ours continue to adapt to policies and protocols that will maximize the safety of our officers.

Law enforcement is always just a step away from danger. That is the nature of doing the work of a peacekeeper. For this reason we must continually train.

Our commanders must review the actions of our people and make any necessary changes. Like the military, our people must be well disciplined and open to new procedures as we work to keep the public safe, along with our officers as well.

When becoming a professional law enforcement officer, it is a process. We learned the building blocks in basic police training and through senior officers who have been down the road before. We expand our knowledge by attending law enforcement schools that take up where college and graduate schools have brought us.

There is a constant effort with a number of our deputies to maintain a balanced life. They want to spend quality time with their spouses and children. Yet, they have a strong sense of learning how better to serve our community through seeking a higher education and more law-enforcement knowledge.

I believe with many of our deputies this thirst for knowledge and desire to be a good citizen began back when they were in elementary school.

One of our former patrol captains, now retired, was a patrol captain of the school crossing guards of his school when he was in the 6th grade. I think it is also neat that locally we have had a number of other crossing guards get into law enforcement, too. We have had three generations represented locally in law enforcement. Public service is in their DNA.

Fortunately, for Cleveland, Charleston and Bradley County, all of our emergency services have this forward thinking mindset. They all seem to want to do the best job possible.

This week our people at the 911 Center have been recognized for their service to the community and all that they do to coordinate emergency services for our county. They certainly have my respect for this very important work that they do and their professionalism.

Thanks for reading.