One of the major beefs I had with former Sheriff Dan Gilley, was his use of the deputizing power of private citizens.
The ability of a sheriff to deputize ordinary citizens goes back to the days of a fledgling nation striving for law and order. Even today there is good cause to preserve this often useful power, so it is not the ability to deputize that concerns me but rather how and why the power is used.
Under Sheriff Gilley, there was just cause to believe he was handing out deputy badges as political favors. Being in possession of a law enforcement badge has obvious and valuable benefits, and they are no doubt in great demand by those who are less than scrupulous. Get-out-of-jail-free authorization is appealing to the possessor, and a powerful political tool for the sheriff.
Our present Sheriff, Tim Gobble, did a good job of reigning in some of this political candy and seemed to believe law enforcement authority is better kept within the law enforcement community. Now it seems the focus has become blurred with the introduction of the much publicized Church Deputy Program. On the face of it, it seems to be a community based effort to make churches safer.... which most reasonable people would support. But if you peer beneath the surface the Church Deputy Program could be used as a blind for political candy with all the associated abuses.
In Tennessee, law abiding people have a right to use a firearm to defend themselves and others from bodily harm, and defend their property using force, including deadly force if necessary.
Already churches have the ability to support an armed congregation or part thereof. Additionally, any law abiding citizen has the right to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm, on or off church property, unless specially prohibited by the church.
Why then would Sheriff Gobble want to turn some members of a congregation into police agents, with all the powers and protection of law enforcement? Being an armed citizen affords protection but does not make you a law enforcement officer, neither does 80 hours of police training. In most cases, it is a lifelong profession painstakingly earned by someone passionate about the job. The Church Deputy Program helps devalue that.
A large portion of local citizens attend church, and have done so for years. Does this make them worthy of those special powers?
As most of Gobble's political supporters probably attend church, does this not open the door to Gilley style political candy?
Gobble is running for US Congress which takes a lot of support and money. Many of Gobble's friends are genuinely his supporters, no inducement needed. But there are people in Bradley County that will ask, "what will you do for me?" before opening their checkbook. I am not suggesting Gobble is selling badges for support, but the Church Deputy Program encourages the possibility of impropriety and abuse.
Gobble's handling of his first few years of Sheriff Department budget requests put a pox on his future political career though it was understandable that he believed the extra money was necessary. There can be no justification to hand out deputy badges, with all the extra cost to the tax payer, for a program that is not necessary in order to arm a congregation.
Gobble, a veteran Secret Service Agent and lifelong law enforcement official, should more than most, appreciate the need to keep law enforcement pure.
That's what I think. What do you think?
Things they won't want to hear
Closing the Five Points Museum and converting it into a cannery and indoor farmers market would actually be useful to the community and encourage people to shop downtown.
Removing the silly courthouse square gazebo that serves no purpose other than being a monument for Cleveland businessman Allan Jones, would at least provide more parking for the frustrated citizen.
If zoning were abolished in Bradley County it would remove government interference, kill the airport and give back property ownership to property owners.
Construct a prison camp next to the landfill and have convicted inmates recycle garbage to extract reusable materials.
Put cameras in Bradley County courtrooms so taxpayers can watch the legal system in action.
Require Lee University and the Church of God to pay for the services they receive.
Americans walked on the moon forty years ago but Cleveland can't synchronize its traffic lights.