I am pleased to be presenting my thoughts as I wrap up my first quarter of 2023 as your Sheriff. I’d like to extend my appreciation to all of you- your support has been a true God’s blessing.
Last year, my candidacy for Sheriff was based on a single platform- improve the safety and well-being of every resident and visitor to Macon County. This was a tall order, not just because it’s easier said than done, but because this was my first undertaking as your Sheriff and it was a job some of you expected me to master quickly. The last three months have been fast and furious, partly because certain things needed to change right away, but also because every resident of Macon County was expecting quick and decisive work within the Sheriff’s Office.
As you know, I was officially sworn in as your Sheriff on December 5, 2022. I spent the first couple of months orienting myself to the role of Sheriff and listening to our County commissioners, other Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police from surrounding counties and towns, my Command Staff, sworn and non-sworn personnel, Federal Officials with the DEA, and naturally, the citizens of Macon County. This was a serious and thorough process as I knew that the Sheriff’s Office needed not only a single game-changer, but it needed to change the game almost entirely. Let me get right to it.
On January 4′”, 2023, I called a meeting with our command staff for the purpose of discussing our fiscal budget year of’23-’24 and to begin the discussion and planning of “what we needed the Sheriff’s Office to look like” in order to respond to the needs of the County.
Our first order of business did not deal simply with personnel or incidental changes; we started at the top frankly, it dealt with how the Office, how the job of Law Enforcement, needed to be changed to meet the demanding and growing needs of Macon County. Prior to this year, the Office of the Sheriff consisted of3 separate areas, the Sheriff’s Office, Patrol, and Incarceration. Today, we have narrowed the focus of each department within the Sheriff’s Office but most importantly added three additional departments that have redefined goals and areas of responsibility- I think you will endorse our new direction.
We established a new “Office of the Sheriff” which consists of myself and my new Chief Deputy, Adam Wishon. This separation provides me greater time to focus on big picture issues, building important professional relationships and addressing the requirements of modern Law Enforcement, specifically for Macon County. Major Wishon focuses his time with leading the Command Staff and every unit of the Sheriff’s Office to ensure optimum performance related to our goals.
We changed the name of the Patrol Division to “CrimePrevention,” headed by Captain Clay Bryson. Clay’sresponsibility is simple, reduce crimes against persons and property with a high-profile, local presence. Until now, the department had a broader focus that included Investigation and the School Resource Officer Unit. Now, Clay focuses all his time on what is necessary to prevent crime in the County. Things such as K9 resources, newly established NeighborhoodWatch programs and implementing a Zero Tolerance policy across the county are all things Clay has brought to the table.
The Detention Services Unit is headed by Captain BrentLedford. He is a veteran of the Jail and a strong leader that is dedicated to his role. While the main purpose of the jail is housing those convicted of a crime or awaiting their court appearance, there is more that can be done for inmates during their stay at our detention facility. Our interest is not just housing those individuals that have been incarcerated, but to work with them on mental health and substance abuse issues that lead to repeat offenses and often more serious crimes. Captain Ledford has continued to make positive changes within the unit that work towards these goals.
One of our biggest changes follows my commitment to Macon County to improve and redefine our School Resource Officer program. We have established a new Unit that is headed by our newly appointed Lieutenant, Greg Rogers. When the Unit was pulled out of Patrol and Investigations, we knew we had to create a standalone operating entity that focuses 100% of its time on ourMacon County schools, administration, teachers and students. We realized that crime in school systems across the Country are on the rise and that Macon County is not immune to such an occurrence. Our program focuses exclusively on prevention, protection, training, response, education, and student/parent intervention. We are very excited about this new focus of the Sherriff’s Office and can already visualize where Greg, in concert with school leadership, will take this program.
Our Investigations Unit, headed by Captain Tim Holland is now a standalone Unit of the Sheriff’s Office. Captain Holland and other members of my Command Staff realized that the investigation Unit “solves” crimes and “prevents” future ones and has created a response that answers to those specific needs. Our goal within this Unit is to increase the conviction rate of criminals by enacting strong and proven investigatory technique so and to prevent other crimes, such as drug abuse, domestic violence, property theft, and violent crimes. We have found that many of the crimes that are committed in Macon County are not committed by its own citizens- this is y reason that we have reached out to surrounding jurisdictions to work in tandem with their investigation units. Since the first of the year, we have already made several large drug seizures and arrests, broken up theft rings and reduced domestic crime by working with the US Drug Enforcement Administration and surrounding law enforcement jurisdictions.Due to Captain Holland’s leadership and the strong team of detectives he has put together, we anticipate that our yearly crime statistics will only improve.
Our newly organized Support and Professional Regulation(SPR) Unit, headed by Captain Jonathan Phillips and CaptainTony Carver is truly where our joint efforts come together at theMacon County Sheriff’s Office. Between the two Captains, we have already established centralized purchasing and procurement, grant writing, human resources procedures, recruiting, fleet maintenance, training, certifications and licensing, policy administration, inventory control and safety under one Unit. Our central clearing house for Sheriff’s Office expenditures has allowed us to maintain a “budget neutral”environment for the ’23/’24 fiscal year while increasing personnel, buying new and better equipment and managing our fleet in a cheaper and more efficient manner. Moreover, unnecessary overtime has been eliminated and our Sheriff’sOffice openings have been decreased by about 70%. In short; the SPR Unit brings a new “checks and balances” mindset to our Office and specifically in the management of a nearly $ 10 million operating budget. I anticipate great things from Captain Phillips, Captain Carver and their sworn and unsworn professional staff.
As you can see, your Sheriff’s Office has been hard at work! Frankly, we listened to our residents and made changes to address their feedback as needed. We empowered some of the best law enforcement officers to continue to strive for greatness. In one quarter, we have made the Sheriff’s Office far more efficient than it has ever been and restored and lifted the morale of
our deputies despite of the many challenges facing law enforcement personnel today. Rest assured; we know there is still work to be done.
We hope that the Citizens of Macon County are beginning to feel a new connection to our Office that is strong, reassuring and warm. I’m proud and humbled to be serving alongside some of the best officers I’ve ever known and can’t wait to see what the remainder of the year holds.
Your Sheriff – Proudly Serving,