Where did you grow up?
I am a life-long resident of Coffee County. I grew up in Prairie Plains community of Coffee County, just south of Hillsboro.
I attended elementary school in Hillsboro and then moved on to junior high school in Manchester.
Let’s talk a bit about your family and hobbies.
I have agricultural background as well as law enforcement. Farming is what I was born into. We raised a lot of livestock. My dad farmed most of his life, and he worked for the State of Tennessee at the same time. My mom was a schoolteacher.
My wife, Leann, is a schoolteacher. Leann has taught for 28 years. She works for the City of Manchester Schools System, teaching at College Street Elementary.
My daughter, Maggie, is 19. She is going to nursing school at Tennessee Tech. She wants to be in the medical field. My son, Will, is a sophomore in high school. He is a football and basketball player. Leann stays busy with the kids.
I am still involved in the farming operation. I have some relatives that are in the grain business and farming. When I have some time, that’s my way to get away – I go to the field and help them harvest and get grain moved.
My family still farms, too. Farming is an enjoyment for me, it takes my mind off some of the activities at the office.
As a farm boy, I have spent a lot of time on tractors. I am enthusiastic about tractors. I am a tractor collector. My father and I collected several antique tractors over the years, and I have restored tractors. I have about 30 tractors.
I like being in the agricultural world as much as I can.
When did you begin your career with law enforcement?
I was in college at MTSU when I came to work at the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department in 1993. I had been a reserve for the City of Manchester for a year before I got hired at the sheriff’s department. In Coffee County, I worked in corrections. And then I went to Warren County and worked as a deputy and as investigator before I was promoted to sergeant.
After that I went to work for the Judicial Drug Task Force here in Coffee County, working at the District Attorney General’s office. I stayed there about eight years. I worked for the Emergency Management and Homeland Security for a while, and then I came back to the sheriff’s office to work as a detective for several years.
Now I am here as a sheriff. I started on Sept. 1, 2018, so this is my one-year anniversary as a sheriff.
For a farm boy from Coffee County, I am very blessed and fortunate to be where I am.
What are your goals for the department?
We just completed our first budget and we did very well. We made some compromises with several line items to help save the county some money. I was happy to get nearly a $2-per-hour increase to help our corrections officers with moneys we worked to save internally with our departmental budget. Now we are going to try to help the rest of the department, and I would like to see what we can do to help all county employees.
Coffee County seems to get hit with big building projects like this jail – we spent about $20 million for this jail – and when you have big projects like this one, that takes away from the employees.
It’s easy to spend money, but we need to be a good steward of the tax dollars and get the biggest bang for the buck, it takes time and studying. We have to prioritize.
I want to try to keep raising the benefits for my employees. Without the employees we can’t operate. If we have good pay and good benefits, then we will retain long-time employees. Unfortunately, most of the folks that come here stay for a year or two and then move on somewhere else.
I want to keep training. We need to do active shooter training and courthouse security training, Sgt. Daniel Ray is going to be a security instructor, so we will be able to do our own training here.
I want to continue to work on services for our inmates. There are all kinds of programs, such as (work release) and re-entry programs. but it’s about having the time, space and ability to put those services in place. I want to do something for the female inmates. I’ve been talking with the county and private business folks about what we can do to have some long-term training and re-entry programs for the women.
We are always trying to keep our equipment in good shape and upgrade. We have reopened our shop – we have a maintenance shop here and we can work and (repair) our vehicles.
Hopefully that will show cost savings.
We are in the process of buying new uniforms and new bulletproof vests to change the look of our officers.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I am 47, and I have been in and out of the sheriff’s department since I was 19. Over half of my life, I spent preparing to do the job. There are stressful days and the jail takes most of my time, but that’s part of it.
The positive part is being able to answer somebody’s question and help resolve an issue.
Our biggest success is our SRO program, having our school patrol cadets and having our summer camp. My staff pulled that off without a hitch. It has been a success.
This experience has made me reflect on what the job is about – helping people and helping the citizens of the county.
I like interacting with the other sheriffs. I have known the sheriffs from the surrounding counties for a long time and we are friends. I am very proud of the work the sheriffs are doing.