SIMPSON: Sheriffs face challenges



Perhaps you are among those folks who have a daily routine and you are not really that in tune with what is going on with your friends and neighbors.

And, if you are not a regular reader of the Georgia Sheriff Magazine (most of us are not), you may have missed an article that appeared in the July-August 2012 issue.

Three fellows with PhDs (Brian Williams, Andrew Whitford, and Billy Close) wrote a story about the Times Square, New York meeting of Criminal Justice Scholars and Practitioners that was held back on March 14, 2012.

There were probably not all that many folks standing in line to read this column. Police officers do usually read such stories and have a special interest in jail operations, Homeland Security, court security, street patrol and other law enforcement topics covered by their training.

At any rate, according to this article, a roundtable discussion was held in New York focusing on key challenges facing Sheriffs.

Among those chosen to participate and make a presentation was Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown. Sheriff Brown served on a panel, with Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edwards, Jr. It was an honor for these two Georgia sheriffs to have been chosen for a discussion on mental health, financial problems, illegal drugs and staffing problems in times of reduced tax revenues.

The writers reported that Sheriff Brown informed the attendees of the explosive growth of Newton County and the resulting demand for services. He highlighted the impact this had on his staff and how the office employees adjusted to change. Many employees did double duty to handle the caseload. Citizens acquainted with Sheriff Brown know he has been in law enforcement for 35 years and has served in many capacities. He was well qualified to highlight the many challenges facing this community with its growing, diverse population.

Sheriff Brown and his staff daily face the realities that are encountered by many public officials with fiscal issues. Newton County is not alone in this regard.

The Newton County Sheriff and his fellow sheriffs in Georgia are doing their best to carry out their official duties during a time of scarcity in available resources.

Congratulations to Sheriff Brown and Sheriff Edwards for serving on this important panel, and for their contributions to the meeting of Criminal Justice Scholars and Practitioners. Thanks, too, to the authors for their informative article.

Sheriff Brown was asked how it felt being chosen to speak on behalf of the Georgia Sheriffs' Association. He said, "Newton County mirrored many issues faced throughout Georgia. I was honored and privileged to stand and speak and share information with fellow officers."

Departments in Georgia and elsewhere have faced budget cuts, reductions in force, unpaid holidays and furloughs. Sheriff Brown indicated he was proud of his employees and their response to the imposed financial restraints. Morale has remained high and positive contributions to the community have continued. The citizens of Newton County have a right to be proud of their public safety servants and their work ethics and commitment to the community.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.