“A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him,” the legendary field marshal once said.
Roughly the same words have been spoken time and again by other leaders whether at the local, regional, state, national or global level.
And each time the point is made, it is a point well taken.
For those who subscribe to such a belief — that a leader’s effectiveness is only as good as the team he assembles — today holds great promise for Bradley County’s law enforcement campaign. That is because only five days ago Sheriff-elect Eric Watson officially introduced his new command staff to the people of this community.
The announcements came over a three-day period, and on Friday afternoon in a Courthouse reception, the sheriff-elect introduced his key players as a collective team. The introduction of outgoing Bradley County Commissioner Brian Smith — a 32-year veteran of law enforcement — as his chief deputy anchored the list.
All Bradley County residents, including those who reside inside the city of Cleveland, have reason to believe the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office will be in good hands.
Consider these appointees who represent 140 years in local enforcement:
- Smith, who will serve as chief deputy (that is, the BCSO’s No. 2 man), is a long-term law enforcement veteran whose career began in 1980 as a BCSO deputy sheriff. He later joined the Cleveland Police Department as a patrol officer and ascended his way through the ranks, eventually becoming detective sergeant, the post he held upon his 2012 retirement.
- Steve Lawson, another law enforcement long-timer who returns to the Sheriff’s Office as captain of the Criminal Investigations Division. Lawson had previously served in the CID role under former Sheriff Tim Gobble before accepting the position of director of the Drug Task Force and Violent Crime Task Force for the 10th Judicial District. Lawson’s career with the BCSO began in 1976, and he quickly moved up the ranks as a patrol deputy, detective and supervisor in both the Patrol and Criminal Investigations divisions.
- Gabe Thomas, a U.S. Army veteran and former Corrections captain, will serve as captain of the Corrections and Judicial Services, a post that Watson has consolidated in order to maximize efficiency and better streamline the operation of both. Thomas’ law enforcement career began in 1998 as a corrections officer with BCSO, and over the next 11 years he was promoted to every ranking supervisory position in the Corrections Division. He was named Corrections captain in 2006.
- Keith Edwards, a 31-year veteran of law enforcement, will serve as patrol captain. According to Watson, he wanted a proven leader in this post who had worked in every division of the Sheriff’s Office. Edwards’ career with the BCSO began in 1981 in the Corrections Division and was eventually promoted to shift supervisor. In 1985, he transferred to the Patrol Division. Like other members of Watson’s command staff, Edwards continued his BCSO career through a series of ascensions that expanded his knowledge of law enforcement and his ability to lead.
- Arnold Botts, a familiar face in fighting crime locally who once served as chief of police for the Cleveland Police Department, is returning to law enforcement as director of Administration for the Sheriff’s Office. During his 18-year career at the CPD, Botts rose through the ranks, serving in both the Patrol and Criminal Investigation divisions. This led to being promoted to assistant police chief. In 1981, Botts was named chief of police, a post he held for 10 years. Since his CPD retirement, Botts has managed the Logan-Thompson P.C. law office in Cleveland while serving as an investigator for the firm.
n Richard McAllister, formerly of Moridge Manufacturing Inc. since 1990, brings to the BCSO what every organization must have — professional experience in budget preparation and oversight. At Moridge, McAllister was responsible for budgeting and procurement for the $20 million enterprise. McAllister also worked in his career as a senior auditor at General Motors Corporation. At BCSO, he will hold the position of director of Support Services.
Law enforcement veterans and followers of government transparency believe they have the right man at the helm in Watson, and that the sheriff-elect has assembled a command staff filled with quality and accountability.
We offer our best wishes to Bradley County’s lead crime fighter and to the A-Team that he has organized to keep local residents, and their families, safe and protected.
We urge cooperation between BCSO and CPD crime-fighting teams, and we ask all Cleveland and Bradley County residents to lend their support to both.