After a neck and neck battle that spanned over the course of three hours during the night of Thursday, Aug. 2, Coffee County officially has a new sheriff. Manchester resident Chad Partin beat incumbent Steve Graves, who has held the office for 20 years.
Early voting had Partin down by about 30, but he quickly sprang ahead when numbers began rolling in. The final count is Partin with 5,922 and Steve Graves with 5,437.
“I respect [Steve Graves]…I will need his help and I want us to have a good relations and I hope we’ll have a good transition," Partin said.
"I hope what I plan on doing will be encouraged by the community. I respect their voices; I work for them."
As soon as he takes office Sept. 1, the 45-year-old is ready to hit the ground running. His goals include restructuring, realigning and deleting nonessential positions to fix the pay structure. The savings will go toward hiring school resource officers (SROs) for all of the county schools.
He vowed to look at Coffee County Jail extensively as well, such as repainting to it and reducing the incarceration rates.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “It’s a daunting task, there’s a lot to be done within just three weeks’ time.”
Once Sept. 1 comes, the first thing on his docket to do is restructure administrative personnel. This will be a long-term process; some officers will be retiring and others may not stay in the county department when September comes. Once this is determined and the county has paid for the retiring officers’ accumulated time, Partin will begin restructuring.
Once everything is settled on the personnel side, SROs will be next in line. He wants to put one SRO into each of the county’s six elementary schools. Coffee County Central High, Coffee Middle School and Raider Academy already have SROs.
“Main thing is I am going to get the officers into the schools like I said I was going to do,” Partin said. “I’m going to ask if there are any deputies that want to volunteer, then see which school officers are best fit in. We want the officers to fit in with the administration in the school.”
He knows he has a lot of work in front of him and wants to be open with the community.
“I’m not perfect,” Partin said. “If you see me not doing something right, you call me.”
Partin has been in law enforcement for 25 years. He spent a majority of his time in the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department, was a part of Graves’s first campaign in 1998, became narcotics and violent crimes investigator, was trained to dismantle methamphetamine labs and became the local “meth guru,” and worked as emergency management in the county’s Homeland Security office to rebuild communications in the northern end of the county. He retired from being an investigator at the sheriff department to pursue the sheriff title.
"Protection in a new direction starts now."