|Bryan pledges to do 'whatever we have to' as interim Sheriff|
|Wednesday, September 26, 2012|
By PATRICK HALL
Wilson County Sheriff’s Department Assistant Deputy Chief Robert Bryan is hoping to put his “imprint” on the department if he is named interim Sheriff by Wilson County Commission later this month and plans to seek the full-time job in 2014.
A lifelong Wilson County resident, Bryan has worked in law enforcement since 1989 when he was hired by the Lebanon Police Department as a patrolman. He has worked with the Sheriff’s Department since 1999.
“I’ve always been interested in being Sheriff one day,” said Bryan, whose father, the late Cecil Bryan, served as Sheriff from 1968 to 1974, and his grandfather, J. Pat Bryan, was Chief Deputy under Sheriff Harold Griffith.When Sheriff Terry Ashe announced on Sept. 18 that he would step down from that position effective Sept. 30, he appointed Bryan as his interim replacement until the commission chooses who will serve as the county’s top law enforcement officer until the next election in 2014.
Bryan has been in charge of administering the Wilson County Jail and its day-to-day operation as well as the day-to-day operation of the department in his role as Assistant Deputy Chief. He said that experience and knowledge makes him a good candidate to fill the interim Sheriff role.
“I believe I’m the man for the job,” he said. “But I’ve got to put my imprint on it if chosen. The Sheriff has the responsibility to move the department forward.”
Bryan believes the department is running smoothly and said he wouldn’t change much of its operation. He said that until the next election, it’s best to have someone with close knowledge and a detailed understanding of the department serving as interim Sheriff.
He also noted there are several challenges the department will face in the future and said he’s committed to working with county leaders to meet those difficulties.
One of the major concerns is a budget deficit in county government’s General Fund. Bryan said the department has been proactive in trying to save money by working with the school system to fund the Student Resource Officer program.
“That’s the program that is essential, it’s essential for our kids and the schools,” he said. Another program Bryan said would be maintained is the Senior Citizens Awareness Network, or SCAN program that visits and cares for local senior citizens.
However, he noted there are places where the department could save money to help the county and noted the department must look for those areas and work with county commission to manage taxpayer money.
He said the department has had a balanced budget for years, but noted they may run into problems with rising fuel costs and the number of inmates they must feed and provide for in the jail. He said the overcrowding in state penitentiaries is having an adverse effect on the local jail.
“That’s driving our costs, not being able to get rid of those inmates,” he said, referring to between 40 and 50 state inmates in their custody.
Bryan said the jail currently houses around 390 inmates in its 462-bed facility and said lowing the jail’s state inmate population would be a huge help.
“This is what we and the commission are going to have to look at in the future. We’ve got to find an answer to that. We will do whatever we have to do for the taxpayers of Wilson County,” Bryan said.
Bryan noted he’s been discussing the needs of the department with county commissioners and getting to know the concerns that commissioners have regarding the department’s budget. He said working with commissioners and other law enforcement agencies is crucial to having a successful department.
“It’s essential to have good working relationships,” he said.