Sherriff Bryant Gives Updates and Plans for Next Term

Published 10:03 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Sherriff Eric Bryant interviewed for his unopposed run for reelection, talking about the experiences that had prepared him to become Sherriff. “I’ve been a career law enforcement person, something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always enjoyed working with people, and more importantly, helping people.”

He shared how his background shapes his work philosophy. “I was always taught, of course, to be respectful and treat people like you want to be treated. People are accused of sometimes very serious and hurtful things. But at the end of the day, they are human beings, and my responsibility as Sheriff is to bring them into this jail, either hold them or process them in, and transfer them or give them a court date to appear in court to answer the charges they have been accused of.”

He stated what he considered his greatest accomplishment during his first term. “I’m able to get a salary that’s not only competitive, but a salary that gives an employee a decent way of life. We work very closely with our Board of Commissioners and of course the taxpayers to find and identify a funding source to be able to get the entry level salary for deputies here in Sumter County to be very competitive and what I think to be a fair hourly rate.”

Bryant talked about the initial situation. “During that time our funding source was taxpayers here in Sumter County, but we were able to work with our government, look at other alternatives as it relates to other revenue sources to be able to actually fund a budget that we were able to give our deputies, during my administration, my first term as Sherriff, almost a two dollar raise, getting our hourly rates up to right at $18 an hour.”

Bryant shared how this led to increased retention and further positive impacts. “The response time did lesson, of course because with retention, you are able to have more deputies out on the road.”

He addressed the number of deputies on call. “We actually have all four shifts of deputies are up to full standard, meaning that there are four deputies working shifts every night here in Sumter County. But there were times that due to staffing that we were down to two deputies a night.”

Bryant addressed current response time: “We’re a very large County, we’re a little under 400 square miles. Even in emergency mode, if I respond to a call on the end of Flint Side Drive, it’s a twenty minute’s response time in emergency mode.”

He mentioned that a non-emergency call to that location would be around 30 minutes from Americus. “But one of the things that we also try to do is implement a system where deputies are throughout the County. Meaning that, we may not be on Flint Side Drive, but we’re in the Cobb area.”

When asked why he had no competitors, he replied: “I try to be as involved and engaged in this community from all angles of this County, so therefore, they see an engaged and involved sheriff. And I think that people appreciate that.”

He also addressed his roots. “I’m homegrown. You know, I was raised in this office. I started here at this office at the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, and I think citizens appreciate that as well.”

Bryant also gave updates on current issues affecting the Sherriff’s office, including electronic crime. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen an increase in some type of fraud or forgery type cases, meaning that someone has gotten someone’s checking account information or someone is fraudulently soliciting funds over the phone and someone has given out their information to their bank or their social security number.”

Bryant stated there was an increase in gun-related crimes, though it was down the past year. “And going into our next four years, one of the things that we’ll be looking at is possibly trying to get a taskforce or a target group of law enforcement officials to identify and maybe rid the community of those individuals that choose to utilize violence as a tool of voicing their opinion or concern about situations and putting them into the county jail.”

He told how use of security systems had affected property crime. “Crime on average has pretty much stayed the same over the last three years, however property crime has decreased.” Bryant also mentioned serious cases like homicides had decreased over the last two years. He credited community involvement by law enforcement. “Presence has been the tool to deter crime.”

Bryant is running on the democratic ticket. When asked if there was anything else he wanted to share with readers, he mentioned plans for further use of technology in the jail and community once re-elected. “We’re looking forward to the next four years here as Sheriff, and also this administration, these great men and women that work here in support of this organization.”