Sheriff makes his case for support

As your Sheriff, my highest priority is ensuring professional service is delivered to the citizens of Bradford County. I believe we must now show renewed support to the men and women on the front lines, during law enforcement’s most challenging times. To ensure the citizens of Bradford County receive the best public safety has to offer and to maintain one of Florida’s lowest crime rates, it is well past the time to give our front-line employees a $1.00 per hour pay raise.  

In June of this year I submitted my budget for fiscal year 2021-2022 to the Board of County Commissioners in the very same format I’ve done the past 12 years. My office is always open and my staff and I are always available to discuss our operations with anyone. As your Sheriff, I take the fiscal responsibilities as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer for Bradford County extremely serious. I also take council from many people inside and outside our agency to develop my budget.  However, at the waning days of this year’s budget process, the county commission has taken the unusual step to request more information to be submitted. During the expected final budget workshop when the county’s budget is to be approved, this commission has now decided to start asking for more information.  To be honest, I am more than disappointed they have not asked for this information back in June when they first received my proposed budget.

Now, I have known each of these commissioners most of my adult life and some even longer. I consider them friends, yet, I am very disappointed in their lack of communication during this year’s budget process. By now, I expect most of you have heard about the very impassioned comments I made at the county commission meeting this past Thursday, September 16th. I am fighting for my budget to be approved as submitted with the main portion being a $1.00 an hour pay raise for the front-line workers of our agency. Even with this raise, Bradford County deputies are the lowest paid public safety/first responder employees in the county. I do not want to create an us-versus-them atmosphere within our community. I only strive for parity amongst the first responders of our county. The Sheriff’s Office employees have only received one county commission sponsored raise in the 13 years I have been in office. I work tirelessly in my commitment to the needs of our community by assembling a team of men and women of excellent character who demonstrate sound judgement and unsurpassed skill in maintaining law and order in Bradford County. They are well trained, well equipped, skillfully managed and properly deployed and I am justifiably proud. It has been my good fortune to oversee a new generation of deputy sheriffs renowned for their competence and accountability.

As we know, the law enforcement profession is facing difficult and challenging times. Now, more than ever, there is a need for experienced, professional and ethical deputies. I have devoted more than three decades of my life to public service in Bradford County and know of no better purpose. I implore every citizen in Bradford County to contact their elected commissioners to demand they support my budget as submitted. During this time, when communities across the country are trying to defund the police, I ask that Bradford County stand with me, your Sheriff, and support the very people who serve you! God bless Bradford County.

Respectfully Your Sheriff,

Gordon Smith