Bulloch County Sheriff Noel Brown is ready to run for office again, hoping for a second term in order to continue one of his main goals: improving the county’s public safety infrastructure.
Brown seeks to expand the Bulloch County Jail, administrative space, inmate intake areas and training space, he told the Statesbnoro Herald. During his first term, construction has already begun on buildings that will house a new training room, clinical areas, office space and a larger evidence room. He has been pitching for new jail pods as well, citing overcrowding in the current space.
Brown and Bulloch County commissioners have differing opinions on the proposed jail expansion, but Brown denied any conflict between him and the board. However, he pointed out, “the sheriff does not work for the commissioners.”
He said current construction will help lower costs such as travel expenses for training, but he maintains the county needs more jail space and more deputies. Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch has said in order to provide for Brown’s goals, taxes may rise significantly.
Brown did not deny this but explained that Bulloch County is growing and needs to improve its infrastructure in order to keep the citizens safe.
“If taxes have to be raised, so be it,” he said. “My priority is the protection and safety of Bulloch County citizens. As sheriff, I am mandated by law to keep peace and safety in this county.”
He denied reports that he has threatened to sue county officials if his requests for expansion are not funded. However, he did refer to “writ of mandamus,” a legal term that, according to www.lawcornell.edu, “is a court order issued by a judge at a petitioner's request compelling someone to execute a duty he is legally obligated to complete. It can also be issued when the authority of a higher court is required to order a lower court or government agency to complete a duty to uphold the law.”
Brown said a writ of mandamus could easily be made against him if he does not uphold his duty to keep citizens safe.
There are problems with the core infrastructure in Bulloch County’s public safety system, and improvements are vital to the ability of the Sheriff’s Office to meet the challenges of a swiftly growing county, he said.
“This is not a want, it is a need,” he said. “We have to grow in place.”
Some may not agree with his views, but Brown said that he is bound to do what he feels is right.
“I would rather not be here and know I did the right thing than be here and know I did not and didn’t say anything.”
The past three years
Brown said he has learned a great deal about Bulloch County’s needs over the past three years, and he still holds citizen safety first and foremost.
“You have to have a caring heart to do this job,” he said. “The aspect of running a Sheriff’s Office has changed so much that you have to have a village of people around you.”
Not only does he need more road deputies, he also needs more jailers and administrative staff to fill the positions necessary to provide all levels of service to county residents, he said. If reelected, he said he intends to do his best to find a way to “grow in place.”
He wants to be able to see and talk to all citizens, but in a county so large, that is not always possible, he said.
“As sheriff, you can’t see them all and can’t work all the cases yourself, but I want people to be able to come talk to me.”
If reelected, Brown said he plans to keep up with current progress on the war against drugs in Bulloch County, as well as maintaining a focus on gang issues and the very real danger of human trafficking.
Listing all local law enforcement and public safety agencies, Brown stressed the importance of working together and his appreciation for all agencies.
“This county is growing, and if we all put our heads together and see where we have problems, we can solve them,” he said.
He asks voters to give him a chance to keep doing what he has been doing for the past three and a half years.
“I have already made changes in three years and want to continue and support teamwork,” he said. “As sheriff for three years I have seen the needs of Bulloch County and want to continue meeting them. I have been honored to serve as your sheriff and this fulfilled a boyhood dream. I am honored to serve with (all local and state agencies), and we will move forward if we all work together.”
Official qualifying dates for the sheriff’s race are March 2–6, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. Brown, a Republican, is opposed so far by Republican challenger Keith Howard and Independent candidate Rey Rodriguez, both of whom have announced their intent to run for office.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.