New Bradley County Sheriff shares goals for the next 4 years
Bradley County has a new top cop. Steve Lawson was sworn in as sheriff over the weekend and wasted no time sweeping the jail for illegal weapons.
Lawson said he wants to add school resource officers to schools, better equip his officers, and clean up the county jail. He's making the jail his first priority and said there is a 30-day plan in place to make it happen.
Steve Lawson is no stranger to the Bradley County Sheriff's Office. He has patrolled the streets, investigated crimes, and served as a detective in his 20 years with the department.
Now, he has a new title.
“Sheriff of Bradley County,” said Lawson.
Lawson said his first priority is to cut down on overcrowding inside the county jail. “When I took over on the 1st, we had 581 inmates in the 408-bed facility.”
Overcrowding is a problem that has plagued the department for more than a decade.
Former sheriff, Eric Watson, pointed to overcrowding as a factor in recent jail deaths.
Lawson said he has met with the district attorney's office, judges, and county commissioners in hopes of having a solution in place within the next 30 days. He is not ready to say how he will do it, but said it will take everyone working together.
“Sometimes you have to put yourself out on a limb to get better,” said Sheriff Lawson.
Building trust with the community is also high on Lawson’s to-do list. He said he wants to be as transparent as possible.
“I want my command staff to be out in public, I want us to speak. I want to go to as many clubs as I can. I want to entertain. I want to go to every school,” said Sheriff Lawson.
Lawson has worked under six different Bradley County Sheriffs. He said he will draw from their strengths, and learn from any weaknesses to lead the department.
“All have strong points, all have weak points," Lawson said. "I try to look at the ones who were effective leaders, and I want to put those strong points together and try to follow them.”
There are 220 employees on Lawson’s staff. He was able to retain all but two employees from Eric Watson’s administration.
The transition wasn't totally seamless. Former Sheriff Eric Watson took the department's Facebook page with him.
If you live in Bradley County and rely on Facebook to keep tabs on department news, here's the link to the new BSCO page.