To the citizens of Shelby County,
It is hard to believe that eight years have passed since I became your sheriff once again. In 2011, the Office of Sheriff had become in disarray; there were personnel issues, and the budget was in the red. Headlines at the time were not what you should expect and certainly were not what you deserved from your lead law enforcement office.
Reflecting on those days in late 2011, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge those who had faith in my abilities and put their names on the line for me. Thank you to the former Republican leadership of the former Republican Central Committee, past and present county commissioners, and you, the citizens of Shelby County, who used your vote to honor me with two more terms.
Being sheriff is the toughest and most rewarding job I have ever held. The Office of Sheriff’s rich history, its place in our great nation, and its responsibility to you, the people, to stand beside you as you govern yourselves fills me with pride each day. Yes, I’ve always believed in “home rule,” which simply stated, is the power of the local self-government over state and federal overreach. My whole career has stood on the principal that local problems deserve local solutions and that those closest to the problem were in the best position to find and implement the appropriate remedies.
Some of those remedies included solutions for protecting school children from active shooter threats; fighting the opioid crisis with rehabilitation; supporting a new animal shelter; and enhancing the ability of the Office of Sheriff to become more financially independent.
Your Office of Sheriff, along with experienced and steady leadership form Chief Deputy Jim Frye, created some of the safest schools in the nation by training and arming volunteer teachers. This, along with placing sheriff’s deputies within schools helped secure our most precious resource, our children. We stood our ground in the face of significant push-back, but now Shelby County schools are a national model for other programs. We were the first to propose and partner with the county commissioners and others to build the Sheriff’s Treatment and Recovery (STAR) House to provide treatment, programming, mentoring and structure to people who are serous about working on their addiction and recovery. Partnering with the Shelby County Animal Rescue Foundation (SCARF), Shelby County commissioners, and many generous citizen donors, the Bob Sargeant & Family Shelby County Animal Shelter & Adoption Center now has become a reality. Finally, our initiative to house federal inmates and contract inmate work programs has generated over $7 million back to the county general fund since 2011. This and more with no tax levies.
The honor of serving the citizens of Shelby County and leading the finest men and women who ever wore a uniform is a privilege and honor. But all good things come to an end. As such, I will not stand for re-election as sheriff in 2020.
As I contemplate my next career in service, I offer a very special salute to those local police and sheriff deputies who serve their local communities. You are the officers who work the weekends, holidays, nights, rain or shine. On the front lines, you see a side of society that most citizens never witness. My hat is off to you for your unwavering service.
The writer is the sheriff of Shelby County.