Below you will be introduced to a very bold plan. This plan will not be for the professionally timid or apathetic. One must remember that success is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort! If we are to achieve a standard of excellence in our law enforcement community it can only come through cooperative spirits guided by an acceptable plan of action. I am willing to make a commitment to this plan. I believe each of my ideas can be accomplished. However, only you can give me the authority to move ahead. On June the 1st you can give me permisson proceed ahead in prepartion for a general election where we turn things around for law enfrocement in Winston County. I need you vote on June 1 to begin making this all possible. Thank you, Sincerely Rick Harris
First 100 Days
Form a Drug Task Force
The Winston County Sheriff’s Office has operated without a designated drug officer or a drug unit since 2000. Investigating drugs and focusing upon drug related crimes is just one of many hats a Winston County Deputy has to wear. If we are at an epidemic level of drugs I think its time we treat it as such. Only playing video clips and verbally reminding everyone how serious a problem we have is not enough. Such an approach only fuels the fear of the problem, and offers no degree of hope to families directly affected by their loved ones involved with illegal drugs. To believe that only attacking this problem with uniformed deputies, who are already covered up in other responsibilities, is not effectively combating the meth and other illegal drug problems. We must have deputies and investigators specifically assigned to deal with these issues. Continuation in this frame of thought will allow the epidemic to become a pandemic, i.e “One Hundred Meth Labs” at one residence.
Sheriff and Deputies to begin Investigating Traffic Accidents
Has anyone in your family ever stood on a Winston County roadside for upwards to two hours awaiting a trooper to come from three counties away to investigate a traffic accident. If you have, you were not alone, because several firefighters and deputies in our county have been there with you. I urge you to ask your local fire department personnel how many hours they have spent in the past ten years waiting on troopers. I will let you do your own math on determining that wasted time. This is not the best stewardship of a volunteer’s time. In addition, one must consider the “risk factors” for both the emergency personnel and civilians on the scene. All of our deputies have been trained and certified in this job skill in their academy training. This policy will go into effect on my first day in office. We (me and all my deputies) will provide this needed service to you. To do less is simply with holding services from the citizens and guests of Winston County at a very traumatic time. Upon arrival at the scene the average accident can be cleared up in about twenty minutes. I can think of plenty of things I’d rather be doing than waiting on someone else to do something we should be doing for ourselves. This service can be made solely upon the sheriff’s decision.
Implement an ability based rank structure in the Sheriff’s Office
Personal ability, skill level, mental and physical readiness, departmental and community contributions, and personal character will be the standard for any departmental advancement. It is the responsibility of the sheriff to provide advancement opportunities to those employees wishing to develop their professional abilities. I can work with any employee who is willing to improve themselves and make life better for all people of Winston County. Those employees desiring not to improve themselves, or their community, should seek another vocational path.
Begin a Citizen’s Sheriff Academy
Its time you had the opportunity to learn more about us so we can learn more from you. This will be a forty hour class spread over a several week period to give you basics in law enforcment and the Winston County Sheriff's Office. The Winston County Sheriff’s Office belongs to the citizens of this county and not just the ones you elect and they appoint. There will be many opportunities for you to become involved in your sheriff’s office as a volunteer and possibliy as a part/full time employee, but before we serve together we must train together. This academy will also include opportunity for our youth who wish to pursue a law enforcement career. I plan to do as many departments across our nation. They have adopted existing youth program santioned by the Boys Scouts of America that involve males and females in carrer based programs. We have lost too many good deputies and police officers to surrounding areas simply due to our lack of planning for their futures. Programs such as mention could make more opportunities available for employment as it has in many departments in our state. I’m willing to work with you to make this happen. Can you see yourself involved with us?
Begin process to obtain Law Enforcement Accreditation
Professional standards are important. This will be no easy task. It will require much time and effort on the part of every member of the sheriff’s office. However, once achieved the possibilities of benefits to our county are enormous. This is a MUST!
Regularly Meetings with other Law Enforcement Agencies
The Office of Sheriff is a constitutional office, or more simply put the sheriff answers to the voters. A traditional belief is that the sheriff has control over the local police chiefs. This is not true. The police chief answers to the mayor of their respective city. The only authority the sheriff has over any other law enforcement agency is that of “mutual cooperation”. The law enforcement community has unified training, common professional concerns, similar approaches to crime issues, a single codified law source, a shared judicial and corrections system, and a seemingly common goal of making our areas of responsibility safer. However, if we will not work together with other elected, appointed, or volunteer personnel there is absolutely no way we can have safe and productive communities. I urge you to discuss with your local police chiefs about what a vital role agency cooperation plays between law enforcement agencies. Sometimes just comparing notes can get a lot accomplished. My goal will be to seek all ways possible to work together for the betterment of Winston County.
Institute Regular Employee Training
The only law enforcement agency in our state that does not require certified continual training is our state’s sheriff offices. This is a discretionary option solely determined by the local sheriff. In cooperation with other local, state, and federal agencies we will begin regular training opportunities for ALL department personnel. The lack of, or inadequate, training in our modern liability driven world is not acceptable. Such lack of attention can lead to serious law suits and personal tradegy to officers and citizens. Quality training opportunities are necessary to improve one’s professional abilities and ensure a more professional department.
Recruit Grant Writers
We are missing many opportunities to in improve our department by not having qualified and experienced people helping us in this area. However, these programs are not “love offerings”. A department must have a definite plan as to how equipment and personnel are to be utilized.There is a very high expectation by donors on both the implementation and administration of designated programs. Such efforts can truly make for a strong law enforcement agency.
Citizens Advisory Panel
I will request of each mayor, and the county commission, to appoint two persons from their respective areas to conviene on a quarterly basis to diiscuss any sheriff's department issues relative to their community. At these meeting I would give any appropriate updates and learn from the attendees how their sheriff's department can better serve them. I would request that the members of this panel would cahnge each quarter.