Bradley County Sheriff announces big plans and changes - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Bradley County Sheriff announces big plans and changes

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BRADLEY COUNTY, TN. (WRCB)  -- Some big changes are on the way for the Bradley County Sheriff's Department: from traffic patrol to a major readjustment within the department.   

Sheriff Jim Ruth announced his campaign to crack down on bad drivers.

In the last eight years more than 140 people died on the road in Bradley County. Sheriff Jim Ruth and his staff set a goal to get that number down.

"That's far too many for a community our size," said Ruth.

Officers say on average, 15 people die on the road every year. Nearly half of those fatalities are caused by speeding, then impaired drivers and then distracted drivers.

Campaign Lifesaver is in full effect. In fact, for the first couple of weeks, instead of citations deputies will pass out lifesavers if they pull you over.

"In a campaign you have to make people aware of who you are and what you stand for," Ruth said.  

The new campaign comes right after the sheriff promoted seven people within the department last week, taking some officers off the road.

"Instead of a linear type fashion, we're going more vertically with three different bureaus instead of six or seven divisions," said Ruth.  

In the past, Ruth said the department did not have enough leaders on staff. Former Sheriff Tim Gobble said he felt like the office used to be too top-heavy.

Ruth adds that these seven new promotions come with seven new pay raises.

"It does but we're in the process of working that out now," said Ruth.  

However, tax payers don't have to worry about paying extra. According to Ruth everything comes out of its $12 million budget set by the County Commission.

However, he will have to move some money around. Ruth said more than a dozen positions are being paid out of the corrections budget when it should be coming out of the operations budget.

"I'm not sure how it got in that shape but we don't like it being that way and I'm sure the County Commission doesn't either so we're going to straighten that out," Ruth said.

Sheriff Ruth also says the department has a couple openings for patrol officers.

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