2014 Progress Edition
Sheriff Jim Ruth said he believed in the year 2013 great strides were made toward his initial goal of building a UNIFIED, PROFESSIONAL Sheriff’s Office DEDICATED to keeping Bradley County residents safe. The Sheriff said the main emphasis of the BCSO is: CRIME PREVENTION, SAFE STREETS, SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS and SAFE SCHOOLS.
Professional Progressive Educated Leaders: The Sheriff said we recognize the need to develop solid dedicated professional leaders in order to achieve this goal. He said he knew it would be challenging transitioning from the old ways of appointing leaders based on political payback and favor to professional ability and dedication.
The present staff has demonstrated the ability to lead now and into the future. Most have an undergraduate degree or near completion. Three hold Master’s degrees and four are graduates of the FBI’s National Academy; two are scheduled to attend.
Sheriff Ruth is confident 6-8 of his commanders are capable of heading up most agencies in the state, with many others well on their way to that capability. The 207 employees of the BCSO are organized into three bureaus: The Administrative Bureau – includes all fiscal affairs, training and support services – commanded by Major Jim Hodgson. Judicial Services/Corrections Bureau – includes court security, warrants, civil process, fugitive, transport, and jail – commanded by Major Jon Collins. The Law Enforcement Bureau consists of three divisions – patrol, special operations and criminal investigations – commanded by Captains John Stone, William “Buck” Campbell and David Shoemaker, respectively. The Law Enforcement Divisions along with the Administrative Bureau and Judicial Services/Corrections Bureau report directly to Chief Deputy Wayne Bird. The Chief, responsible for all the day to day operations, in turn reports to Sheriff Ruth.
Captains Stone, Shoemaker and Campbell work closely and tirelessly in leading our law enforcement efforts. Last year, our Patrol Division responded to over 106,000 calls. They, along with our Traffic Unit, also initiated over 25,000 stops in our Stop Crime, Crime Reduction program.
According to the latest state statistics for crimes cleared:
CLEARED– 78% Crimes Against Persons (far above State of TN and many other agencies)
CLEARED – 22% Burglary (State 12% - about 10% above most agencies)
CLEARED – 55% Overall Crime (State 37%)
Patrol is our first line of defense and consists of 4 patrol shifts, along with the STAR Team (a crime suppression unit), SWAT Team and a 30 member reserve unit.
Our SWAT Team works closely with all local and surrounding agencies. Last year they were called in on several occasions for barricaded subject, active shooter or other dangerous situations. The SWAT Team has conducted training sessions in all Bradley County Schools and many larger businesses.
Due to the high crime and violence in the neighboring Chattanooga area, we’ve been especially vigilant for any encroachment into our community. We try to make it known – criminals are NOT welcome here!
Traffic Unit: The Governor’s Highway Safety Office recognized Bradley County for the largest reduction in fatal crashes in the state. TRAFFIC DEATHS: 20 year low in traffic fatalities. We are very thankful for this reduction in traffic deaths - we trust the hard work by all of our deputies enlisted in Sheriff Ruth’s campaign "LifeSaver" had its impact.
Criminal Investigations: Our detectives investigated nearly 1,000 cases last year. Homicides: Tasha Bates - Case charged and convicted of first degree murder of 2 young children, also meth violations.
Donnie Brantley – Charged in disappearance of Marsha Brantley
Fraud: Over 100 counts of Bradley County residents victims of fraud.
Burglary Rings: Several major rings broken up.
Sex Offenders: Our detectives monitor activities of 66 registered sex offenders.
Special Investigations Unit: This unit is responsible for all narcotic violations, organized crime and child pornography. Our SIU consists of 8 detectives and 1 criminal analyst. We also have detectives assigned to the DEA and FBI as Task Force Agents.
Drug Investigations: The BCSO charged around 300 defendants with drug violations. Cases were made on different level operations, with multi-defendant conspiracies for cocaine and methamphetamine distribution and sales. $100,000 in cash has been seized and 21 vehicles have been seized. We have a dedicated, proactive effort against the sell and distribution of illegal drugs.
Intelligence Unit: This year we began our Intelligence Analysis System. This unit serves as a clearing house for all crimes and information in the region. Raw data is entered, analyzed and furnished to detectives and deputies with all relevant information for use in the field.
Safe Schools: We have an SRO in EVERY school! Of the 95 Tennessee counties, only 5 compare to Bradley County with SROs in all elementary schools. Only 1 other in the state is totally funded by the Sheriff’s Office.
TAG – Together Achieving Goals: Last year, in cooperation with our educators, we began the TAG program for our 5th graders. TAG replaces the old DARE program. While DARE is a good program, it infringed too much on instructional schedules in the classroom. Also being trademarked, the rigid curriculum couldn’t be changed to address local, unique and current relevant issues.
The current topics of TAG are: Bullying, prescription drug abuse, meth, internet safety and peer pressure. The program is flexible enough to address all relevant issues on a timely basis. To date, we’ve had over 600 students complete the program.
Other Special Operations:
Environmental Officer: Conducted over 200 inspections and 300 follow-up investigations.
Public Service Unit: Our PSU has escorted 173 funerals, assisted 233 motorists, having worked a total of 1833 volunteer hours.
Senior Registry: Volunteers have checked on hundreds of seniors.
Honor Guard: Our Honor Guard is becoming very popular in our community. They’ve posted colors at several schools and appeared at many other functions.
Corrections / Court Services Bureau -
Jail operations continue to be a perennial critical function for the Sheriff’s Office. Opened in 2004 with a bed capacity of 408 and an initial population of about 200, the jail population has steadily increased past all predictions and began to number consistently over 500 during 2013.
Several significant changes occurred in Maj. Collins’ area of responsibility during 2013. They were implemented to make visitation of inmates easier for families and to improve the safety and security of the inmate population, jail staff, and the community. Some of these are:
The Visitation Scheduler lets jail visitors set their next time using either the Internet from home or the kiosk in the jail visitation lobby.
The jail implemented a policy of restricting inmate mail to postcards. This will reduce the amount of contraband, contaminated letters, and the amount of mail refused or returned to the sender.
The jail continues to expand a GED class for inmates who qualify. A number of inmates have completed the class and all requirements to take the GED test. They were able to leave jail with a high school education that will hopefully open up new employment opportunities and allow them to become productive citizens.
Electronic message exchange permits near real-time messaging with inmates. Messages are sent and received utilizing the inmate kiosk in each housing unit. Once received at the facility, messages are subject to the same screening policies as standard mail.
Internet visitation from home, scheduled to begin in early February, will let family members to visit inmates over the Internet and will open up visitation to those unable to travel to the jail. More information on these programs will be available as final technical issues are resolved and implementation approaches.
Judicial Services Division:
Dedicated to protect the safety and security of the courts and ensure timely execution of legal process, the Judicial Services Division screened over 132,000 people entering our local courts during 2013. Deputies in this division arrested 471 people attending court who were found to have outstanding charges. They also served over 4,500 civil and criminal warrants and were responsible for the arrest of 883 people on various other criminal charges during the year.
Near the end of 2013, corrections personnel performed commendably in dealing with several cases of food poisoning suffered by jail inmates. After those affected had received proper medical diagnosis and treatment, jail staff assisted the Health Department and the jail food service contractor in investigating the cause of the problem, which was traced to a supply of chicken contaminated during processing. Eventually, the producer accepted responsibility for the problem and recalled a large quantity of this product.
Administrative Services Section: BCSO continues an unbroken record of full compliance and certification with the mandated Tennessee Incident-Based Reporting System (TIBRS) and TCIC / NCIC requirements.
Training Unit: Lt. Douglas Towne reports the Police Training Officer (PTO) program was expanded and there is now at least one PTO on each patrol shift. The BCSO was one of the first agencies in the state to implement the PTO program, an alternative national model for “new officer” training that incorporates community policing and problem solving principles. Most importantly, it serves to ensure that academy graduates' first experience as law enforcement officers is one that reflects policing in the 21st century. The PTO program will produce officers who have the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitude for today's law enforcement environment. Lt. Towne is a graduate of the PTO Instructor program at the National PTO Academy / University of Louisville Southern Police Institute.
BCSO continued to develop its capabilities in providing annual in-service training for all law enforcement and corrections personnel, as mandated by the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission and the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI). 2014 training has been submitted for approval by these bodies and will soon commence.
BCSO also continues refinement of a voluntary career development program, starting with the evaluation of participating officers’ career accomplishments in training, professional achievement and community involvement. Officers participating in career development can earn advancement up a “career ladder” which will be utilized to recognize career accomplishment and allocate any future funds appropriated for merit raises. The training unit will be providing more opportunities this year for in-house training that can be applied to career development.
The Training Unit continues to be active in crime prevention education efforts, including the numerous Neighborhood Watch programs in communities across Bradley County.
Support Services Division:
Efforts continue to replace existing V-8 powered vehicles in the fleet with more fuel efficient V-6 models, as funds permit. Six additional V-6 vehicles were added to the fleet in 2013. Operational fuel saving measures begun three years ago continue in effect to save fuel and reduce vehicle mileage accrual. Obviously, replacing the entire fleet will require years to complete at the current level of funding.
The BCSO Fleet garage continues to perform service and repairs to BCSO’s vehicles at much lower cost than could be achieved using private sector vendors. Additionally, repair turnaround delays and officer “down time” due to repairs and service are kept to a minimum through the efficient operation of the garage facility. “Upfitting” of new patrol vehicles with communication and safety equipment is also accomplished in-house, creating additional savings.
An increasing challenge lies in the maintenance of the Bradley County Justice Complex, which will soon reach the ten-year mark in jail operations. With all mechanical and electrical equipment and operating systems now out of warranty, the repair and effective upkeep of the facility will require a significant increase in maintenance effort and funding in the coming years. We will be doing our part to ensure the proper conservation of this significant county asset.
Cooperation with Other Agencies: At the end of the year, the U.S. Attorney advised that we (Bradley County) were named as the newest member of HIDTA - High Impact Drug Trafficking Area. This means to us, we’ll receive more assistance in equipment, manpower and cooperation in out fight against illegal drugs. I’ve never seen a better cooperative spirit than we now enjoy with state, local and federal agencies. Again, I am thankful for this cooperative effort.
Closing comments: While I feel we’ve made progress and our men and women have accomplished much over the last year, we’re pursuing new goals for next year and the near future. Among them are to strive for better pay, a new merit pay system, and a career service plan for all our well-deserving, hard working deputies.
Sheriff Jim Ruth