Having retired as Chief Deputy of the Troup County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 6, I have been asked by many people whom I will support in the sheriff’s race in November. Without a doubt, I support candidate James Woodruff, and I believe it is extremely important, if not critical, that the citizens of our county understand why I stand behind him.
After 36 years of service under Sheriff Donny Turner, and his predecessor, Gene Jones, and also under Sheriff L.W. Bailey, I believe I have professional, firsthand and unbiased knowledge of the inner workings of the operations of the Sheriff’s Office. Because of this, I can offer a firm and compelling reason that has recently surfaced as to why Mr. Woodruff is by far the best man for the position, which I will explain further down in this letter.
But first, I want to give you some background of my experiences working with Mr. Woodruff. Our working relationship spanned some 20 years, beginning when he joined the Sheriff’s Office under former Sheriff Gene Jones and then came on board with Sheriff Turner in 1993. His character and integrity — and his leadership and administrative abilities — were beyond reproach in each and every capacity he served, and there were many as he was promoted through the ranks.
Mr. Woodruff has served the Sheriff’s Office as a jailer, a deputy in the Patrol Division, a lieutenant in patrol, captain/public information office, and major/jail administrator. Before I became Chief Deputy (“second-in-command,” if you will), James served as Chief Deputy for four years.
My professional relationship with Sheriff Turner through the years ultimately evolved into a very good-natured friendship. I have contemplated this over many sleepless nights, but I have decided that my past friendship with him cannot trump my ethical and moral duty to the citizens of Troup County to let them know what is currently happening in the Sheriff’s Office. This turn of events has serious ramifications for the Sheriff’s Office employees, the success of the future sheriff, and the safety of this community as a whole.
I want to offer one reason — and it’s a huge one — that Troup County select Mr. Woodruff as sheriff. It is because Sheriff Turner has been purposely spending confiscated drug money, albeit for purposes that benefit the Sheriff’s Office, at an alarming rate since the run-off election in August. Twenty years ago when Mr. Turner became Sheriff, I heard him complain for the first three months how former Sheriff Gene Jones did the same thing to him regarding spending the drug money, and now Sheriff Turner is trying his best to be sure the next sheriff does not succeed.
In the past several years, Sheriff Turner has been able to cut his budget as Troup County leadership looked for ways to trim costs in this poor economy we’re all experiencing. To offset that cut, he has used money confiscated in drug busts, as law allows, to purchase everything from pens and copy paper to guns, patrol cars, technology and the like, and until recently has done it wisely. The amount of confiscated drug money has amounted to about $1.7 million in the last three years, according to Sheriff Turner at an open sheriff’s forum on Aug. 14.
But since the run-off election on Aug. 21, Sheriff Turner has spent that money excessively, and when he leaves, the new sheriff and his employees are going to suffer for it. I feel that Mr. Woodruff is the only one with the leadership and administrative abilities to weather the storm that is about to come when the new sheriff takes office in January. He also is the only one of the three candidates familiar with the inner workings of the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, and it will take someone with that familiarity to work through this very serious issue.
Because of this spending, there will be dire consequences. The best accountant on the planet would have tremendous trouble facing the situation to come without having to consider a reduction in force (layoffs), a countywide tax increase, and/or a compromising of the safety of Troup County citizens in some form or fashion.
Please know that if a tax increase or Sheriff’s Office layoffs come our way in the near future because of excessive spending of the drug money, it will not be because the new sheriff caused it.
I ask you to join me in supporting Mr. Woodruff to become our new sheriff. I live here, my grandchild lives here, and I want Troup County to be safe for all citizens as we continue to move forward.