Willie Brown is a candidate for Henry County Sheriff. He will appear in the upcoming Republican Primary on June 9, 2020.
Locust Grove News provided each Sheriff candidate with a questionnaire. The community page has shared each candidate’s responses with Moving Henry Forward for inclusion on our website.
Responses have been reprinted as they were received without any edits for grammar or spelling.
1.) What do you plan to accomplish in your first 30 days? In your first year?
The first 30 days begin during the transition period.
The first 30 days is critical. People working in the Sheriff’s Office already work in a stressful environment, so it is essential my staff and deputies get clear and concise communications from me: what we are doing and, more importantly, what is to be accomplished through these actions. In order to make this communication “two-way,” I will contract out an employee engagement survey to an independent and external company to ensure accurate and honest responses.
The establishment of this communication will be very helpful to me as I put my team into place. This will allow me to consider where we have the right people in place already and where we need to make some changes. Utilizing the survey and working collaboratively with my new team, we will also be able to more effectively evaluate the current policies and procedures of the Sheriff’s Office to determine any modifications to our priorities in how we “get things done.” This collaborative effort will also allow us to look at other important needs: determining that we have modern and well-maintained equipment, adequate staff and people, proper and essential training, and other essential resources to make the Sheriff’s Office run optimally.
In other words, I expect to be extremely busy the first 30 days making sure that we have the right people and equipment to do the job that the citizens of Henry County expect us to do.
2.) What do you think is the most important skill of being an excellent Sheriff?
You need many “skills” to be an excellent sheriff. I think it is more accurate to say that it is most important that that you possess the right characteristics: a strong moral compass, the ability to envision an even better Sheriff’s Office based on your own leadership and law enforcement experience in Henry County, and the heart of someone who has a track record of service to the community. These “characteristics” will enable an “excellent sheriff” to delegate responsibility to the men and woman who uphold the law in this community because the sheriff won’t be able to do it alone. An “excellent sheriff” will do this in a manner in which he holds himself and his officers accountable so that they can continue to keep Henry County to be a safe place to live, work, and play.
3.) What is the biggest need of the Henry County Sheriff’s Department now and what would you do to fill that need?
These are things that I outlined in my CORE Beliefs when I first considered running for Sheriff: Recruitment and Employment. We need more deputies, and we need to make sure that we keep the goods ones currently with the department. I honestly believe that there are many qualified young people out there who would make great police officers. But if we’re going to do a better job of recruiting them, we have to offer better incentives for them to join us and opportunities for them to train and advance once they’re here. We can reach new recruits through career fairs, social media, and by utilizing our School Resource Officers as ambassadors to young people. We can also do a better job of finding ways to provide additional certification and trainings for good officers looking for ways to advance in their careers to improve retention.
Addressing these issues will go a long way in helping to better ensure the continued safety of our judges, courts, jails, and ultimately the citizens of Henry County.
4.) What specific managerial/leadership experiences do you have that qualify you for this job?
My time in the military and working for the Sheriff’s Office has given me a great deal of leadership experiences as well as opportunities for managerial training and development. I am a retired veteran of both the US Navy and the Henry County Sheriff’s Office. Service to my country and community has helped me develop my leadership skills, but I would like to focus on just a few that I think are essential for becoming Sheriff.
I have found that to be a good leader, you not only need a vision for what your outcome should look like, you need the ability to put it all together in a plan that has the end in sight. You also need to know the value of people: those in the community trusting you to do the right thing to keep them safe as well as those working for and alongside you. We must show that we value and respect all the people we encounter: those we serve and those we manage.
When I was in the Navy, I frequently served as a leader and mentor. At one point I was responsible for 2000 delayed entry personnel waiting to ship out to Boot Camp. This taught me how important it was for a leader to be a good administrator: I had to ensure that my people maintained their eligibility to report to boot camp by traveling to multiple states to conduct training sessions, mentoring, inspections, and I had to create and operate on a budget. I also learned in the Navy the importance of maintaining a focus on the mission. As the personnel officer for a ship, I was required to ensure that the ship was always properly manned in order to operate and complete its mission. Without trained and qualified staff, this is difficult if not impossible.
Similarly, working for the Sheriff’s Office, I was able to accumulate many experiences to prepare me for this job. I not only had the opportunity to work in every department of the Office as a leader or manager within each, I was privileged to serve as the temporary commander of the Henry County Detention Center Annex. Since I’ve become familiar with the entire Sheriff’s Office in this manner, and through the accumulation of many leadership experiences, I feel that my combined experiences uniquely qualify me for this position.
5.) Why are you the best man for the job?
I feel that I am the best person for this job because I am experienced as a leader who has served with the Sheriff’s Office, utilizing my prior military leadership experience to help execute the mission of the Office. I understand that the Sheriff needs the credibility of a competent and ethical resume of leadership experiences to be able to bring our community together to keep it a safe place to live, work, and play. This calls for the Sheriff to make not only his officers accountable to each other and the community, but, as the chief law enforcer, himself accountable too.
I also feel that my experiences have helped me to develop a vision for the department. We need to implement programs that work with families, churches, schools, the business community, and other government agencies to help prevent crime, not just prosecute it.
In short I understand that it is the responsibility of the Sheriff to delegate and supervise the day to day operations of the officers of the Sheriff’s Office to maintain public safety for Henry County. I also understand that this is only possible if the Sheriff’s Office can build public trust and goodwill as it seeks to fulfill this important mission, because together we are crime fighters.