By David Knox
Sheriff Tyler Hatfield took some time to answer some questions from The Moore County News and reflect on where the Metro Moore County Sheriff’s Department is – and where he hopes it’s headed — after his first year at the reins.
Sept. 1 marked your first year as sheriff. What was the most surprising thing – good or bad — you discovered when you first took over?
Running the jail is by far the most difficult aspect of being Sheriff. Ultimately, I’m responsible for the overall care of 30 individuals, from all walks of life, on a daily basis. Staffing issues are difficult as well. Employee retention is one of my biggest concerns and retention in the jail has been my main focus since taking office. Captain Shane Taylor and I have spent some time with other Sheriff’s and Jail Administrator’s to learn how other facilities operate and adapt some of their methods to fit our needs.
Kay Solomon is our Jail Administrator, Andy Raby is our Corrections Lieutenant, Lisa Charlton is our Correction Sergeant and Field Training Officer, and because of state regulations, we recently promoted two Corporals, Mark Gray and Maygan Bartosh. We have some solid leadership in the Jail and are expanding how we train our Corrections Officers. We are spending more time with new employees before they are released to a shift and expanding our medical training.
You’ve restructured the department. Who have been your promotions and new hires and how have they made a difference?
Shane Taylor was promoted to Captain last September and serves as the second in command for our Office. He helps with administrative duties in the Jail as well as oversees our Criminal Investigation Division. When our second SRO was approved by the Metro Council, Mike Rainey expressed interest in the position and is an excellent fit at LES. Brandon Thomas was promoted to Investigator to fill Mike’s vacancy and Dustin White was promoted to a newly created position, Directed Patrol. Directed Patrol is basically half patrol responsibilities and half Investigation. It gives us more flexibility with patrols schedule and making sure the road is covered and it also gives us an extra position in CID to help with larger cases.
We’ve hired several new Deputies since I took office. Austin McGee came to us from Fayetteville City, Alex Bell was promoted from within the Jail, Douglas Carson was promoted from Dispatch, Tyler Riddle came back to the Sheriff’s Office, and Arthur Barad came from Tullahoma PD. We have a great group of Deputies and I’m pleased with our growth after year one.
Sometimes people think a fairly small town like Metro Lynchburg Moore County mostly writes speeding tickets and nabs the occasional drunk driver, but you’ve had some drug busts and some fairly difficult cases, not to mention the historic floods and going through Lynchburg Music Fest. Where do you think the department is making the biggest difference?
I’ve jokingly told several people I’d rather not experience every natural disaster or major event in my first year as Sheriff. With that being said, I feel as if we’ve fared pretty well. We learned a lot during the floods in February while the EOC was activated. We made pushing out real time information a priority and I feel like we succeeded. It also brought to light the need for our Deputies to have more abilities in their patrol units. We had complete closures of many roads throughout the county so our Communications Center was very busy taking incoming calls and getting the appropriate people to respond. Radio traffic was high and finding a way to reduce that traffic while still pushing needed information led to us getting internet capabilities in our patrol units so we can utilize the technology we already have in place and help with our efficiency in the field.
I hope our citizens are seeing a difference in our presence throughout the county. We added a Deputy this year which allows us more coverage on the road than we’ve ever had before. I created a power shift from noon to midnight to help get us through the high call volume times. It also helps us cut down on overtime by having shifts that overlap.
What is the area you’d like to see improved? A certain type of crime? Or something else?
I’d like to see us do a better job of keeping contact with victims after the initial report is completed. From time to time I hear people say they filed a report but never heard anything back. Sometimes just a phone call goes a long way.
How has the restructuring of Public Safety affected your department?
It hasn’t really changed much on our end as far as how we operate.
What’s the most important thing you think you and the MCSD have accomplished?
The overall goal is to provide solid emergency services for our citizens and I feel we have succeeded. Elections are hard on county offices because of the unknown. I think we’ve moved past the unknown and into a confident department led by communication and experienced Deputies.
Is there something else you’re proudest of?
I’m proud of our growth. We’ve made a lot of progress over the last year and worked through several serious events. We’ve updated our policy and have scheduled yearly reviews to stay up to date. We’ve brought in more technology to make us more efficient in the field and improve officer safety. We replaced expiring body amour and changed our uniforms to a more comfortable and affordable option. We’ve accomplished a lot but we have to keep looking for ways to improve.
Everything you want to accomplish isn’t going to get done in a year. What do you hope to accomplish in this next year?
I’m really looking to address some facility maintenance issues this year. I had Duck River come in this spring and conduct an energy audit and they pointed out some ways we could make the building more efficient. We need to move forward with some of these projects like replacing duct work on the old side of the building, adding more insulation to the jail, and replacing florescent lighting to LED. All things we can see a return on investment and cost savings to the county in the future.
I’m also hoping we can add more medical training for our deputies so we can offer more assistance with medical calls, as we are often first on scene. If we can better train our Deputies we can start care faster and better assist our medical personnel once they arrive on scene.
Q. What is the one message you’d like to deliver to the citizens of Metro Lynchburg Moore County?
Two things; we are doing our best and thank you! I’ve heard a lot of positive comments over the last year and I hope our citizens see the progress we’ve made over the last 12 months and our continual efforts to improve. Law Enforcement is a very difficult profession. However, a community that supports our efforts make it a lot easier.
I can be reached at 931.759.6464 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.