Newton sheriff candidates discuss experience, budget

COVINGTON -- Republican candidates for Newton County Sheriff faced off last week, both touting their experience and stating the need for a change in leadership.

Philip Bradford and Bill Watterson participated in a forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and The Covington News and held at The Center on Thursday.

Both said their experience makes them the best choice for the job.

Bradford said his 26 years of experience with the Covington Police Department allowed him to work in every division, including working on federal cases in drug enforcement and testifying in federal court.

"Tenure is not experience; it's what you've done during your tenure," Bradford said. "I'm a hands-on guy. I've done it. I didn't spend my career sitting behind a desk."

Watterson said he has a vested interest in the community, and his 23 years with the Newton County Sheriff's Office allowed him to work in the patrol, drug and investigations divisions.

"I want to make Newton County safe for my family and yours," he said during the forum.

If elected, Bradford said he would implement more training for School Resource Officers, since currently only one out of 12 of them are certified. He said he would have concerns with a proposed alcohol referendum, but "it's here in the community and we have to deal with it."

Watterson said that he would bring in more community education to deal with any issues that arose from new alcohol ordinances, including DUIs and domestic violence. He also would like to see a Mothers Against Drunk Driving and a Students Against Destructive Decisions program brought into the county. He added that NCSO also would need to enforce the rules with more checkpoints and more trained officers.

Watterson said he's managed budget issues like overtime and comp time and maintaining a fleet of cars as an assistant patrol commander with NCSO, and Bradford said he managed a $300,000 budget when he was commander of the East Metro Drug Enforcement unit from 2005 to 2007 and deals with budgets now as captain of the Criminal Investigation Division.

Bradford said he would hold his departments accountable and not overspend on his budget set by the Board of Commissioners.

"It's very simple — we can only spend the money we have," he said, adding that he would be transparent with the public by allowing an open-door policy like he does at CPD. "We need a cultural change in the department."

Since Watterson has worked with three sheriffs, he said that allows him to know what to spend money on and how not to spend money. He said priorities would be with the required salaries and jail costs, and if any other funds are available he would allow for things like equipment and technology upgrades.

"We've had so much excessive spending," he said, adding that more deputies need to be put back on the roads instead of being kept in administrative jobs that they have moved to recently. "The current administrative has gone off track."


comensense1234 3 years, 4 months ago

Watterson is the best man for the job. He knows what it takes to run a departmant. He's been around and knows the people and sets a good example. He's well liked and respected by the law enforcement community. And nothing against Mr Bradford, but one thing is for sure the County does not need to be ran by the City. I'm almost certain alot of good Deputies will be replaced by his friends in blue.


inthemiddle 3 years, 4 months ago

The county needs to be ran by someone that is not a deputy. That is the most overweight, back woods, unprofessional, super-troopers looking bunch I have seen in the metro area. They need someone from the outside to come in and modernize and professionalize the department.

And why would city workers leave the city (where they make more money, get raises, and have a pension) and go to the county for less money, furlough days, and contribution based retirement? Comensense1234 can't spell common and obviously didn't use sense when they though that very many "friends in blue" would leave to go to that circus that is the Newton County SO.


comensense1234 3 years, 4 months ago

At the end of the day, when it's all said and done Watterson is going to make a fine Sheriff.


LE4LIFE 3 years, 4 months ago

To inthemiddle, not sure if you are a criminal or ex-employee, but it is obvious you have no respect for those men and women who choose to serve this county. Stay at home and rest we got this and next time you dial 911 stand back and watch as we protect you as we do any and everyone. Good Day


inthemiddle 3 years, 4 months ago

Neither a criminal nor an ex-employee, just an observant citizen. I am appreciative of all the law enforcement that serves everyday, but I still think that NCSO has a ways to go (both in personnel and policy) when compared with surrounding PD's and SO's. I think Bill is a nice man, but it is hard to change something when it is all you know. It will take someone who has worked at an agency that is a notch above the NCSO to recognize what needs to be done to bring the NCSO up a notch. Just look at the horrible decisions made to arrest the people changing the locks at their new home recently. Utterly impossible that a properly trained LEO would make that decision, and even more impossible that a supervisor was there and allowed the decision to happen. Personally, I think the CPD is a notch above the SO in many areas and I would hope that an outside eye could see the areas that need improvement (fitness, training, etc) and develop a plan to make the improvements happen.


dustinketchem 3 years, 4 months ago

inthemiddle.. i guess that why Newton County was selected as 1 of 30 Sheriffs Deaprtments that received National Recognition. We also received a $1,000,000 grant from the state for having th ebest new hires. Dont talk about something when you dont have a clue.


inthemiddle 3 years, 4 months ago

I have a clue. I know many deputies. Let's start with fitness Nevermind, I don't want to name names because i am friends with most of these guys; but offhand I can think of a Capt over the jail, a sgt on the road, a CHAMPS teacher, and an investigator / former k-9 handler who all shouldn't be allowed in any form of mandated position. And this is just off they top of my head. There are a few over there in shape, but there are many who couldn't take care of themselves in a fight, much less anyone else.

I am also aware of the awards, but apparently you are now. You weren't 1 of 30 in the nation to receive national recognition for anything positive ... but you were 1 of 30 in the nation to receive a COPS hiring grant to hire veterans. The selection was made on "fiscal need and local crime rates". Considering the other recipients in the state of Georgia were the City of Atlanta police and MARTA police, I don't think that the NCSO is in too good of company regarding said fiscal needs or local crime rates.

I don't what kind of lies you heard to make you think this award is something to boast about; to me it looks more like a scarlet letter regarding your crime rates and fiscal problems.


LE6 3 years, 3 months ago

Look Bill Watterson or Phillip Bradford both will make several changes I know both men pretty well. Both are highly trained and good men that will do whats right no matter what. I will say that blasting the Sheriff's Office is not right. It is easy to pick and choose officers when you pay well and get raises and only have 50 officers. But when you just need bodies to fill the 200 plus officers detention included you get some of the people that inthemiddle was talking about. I will stick up for one the former K-9 offer may be a big guy but I would fight with him any day of the week and he knows the law and is one of the best officers I have ever met. As far as training the one story is your bases of blasting the Sheriff's office. Did you know that the Sheriff's Office has 3 of the most trained DUI officers in the state of Georgia. The city has 0 with that certification. The county has a interdiction unit that has trained with the best unit in the state. What does the city have? There are some great Deputies at the Sheriff's Office but most are leaving due to not getting paid and other reason. But it's not right to put the entire sheriff's office in the same bunch and the very small percent that gets put in the news for bad reason. Both will change a lot and most likely do I really great job. Just figured I would thrown in my two since.


inthemiddle 3 years, 3 months ago

Having specialized units when the general shifts are short is a poor use of manpower. Management 101


gsm7476 3 years, 3 months ago

shifts are short because every one complains if the BOC raises the millage rate. So they have to make cuts and Sh. Browns department got a large cut. he is doing a good job with what he has if you really want to improve police in newton co talk to the BOC. Brown has done a good job but I will say it does not matter who wins they all look like good men.


comensense1234 3 years, 3 months ago

inthemiddle, even though you blasted me you do bring up some valid issues. I know alot of the law enforcement in the area and for the most part they are hard working family men and women just trying to make ends meet. At the end of the day weather the uniform is brown or blue death could be just around the corner, a job that i couldnt do. I would like to say Watterson, Bradford and Brown are all respected and have different managment styles. Now its down to two. May best man win.


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