Bradley County Sheriff Capt. Steve Lawson formally announced on Tuesday that he is running for sheriff.
He said, “Over the past three years, the citizens of Bradley County and members of the sheriff’s office have been through embarrassing times regarding the personal and professional conduct of our current sheriff.
“I believe the citizens of Bradley County deserve so much more from our sheriff. I believe the position should be above reproach, and should set an example for every member of the department. I believe the sheriff must be a strong ethical and moral leader for our community. Claiming higher moral ground for political gain is simply wrong, and my belief is actions speak louder than words.
“So today, after much prayer, and with the support of my family, my pastor, and with the pledges of support from the community and many members of the local republican party, I am humbled to formally announce my candidacy for the Republican Party’s nomination for Sheriff of Bradley County, subject to the May 1st Republican Primary.”
Capt. Lawson, a law enforcement veteran of over 23 years of service, has a wide-ranging career in both the public and private sectors, and has been part of the administrations of six different Bradley County Sheriff's since he first entered law enforcement. Shortly after graduating from Bradley Central High School in 1976, he joined the sheriff’s office as a dispatcher. Over the years, he worked his way up to patrolman, patrol supervisor, detective, and detective supervisor, before leaving the department in 1988 to enter the private sector.
He said, “Working in the private sector for several years gave me a whole new perspective on what it really means to be a responsible public servant. I learned the importance of spending each and every tax dollar wisely as if they were my own hard-earned dollars.
“I also learned the hard working taxpayers in our community expect our elected officials to be public servants, not self-servants who benefit themselves in unethical ways while in office. Working at Bowaters was a true learning experience in many ways.” He worked at Bowaters Southern from 1988 until he resumed his law enforcement career in 2006 when he rejoined the sheriff’s department as captain of the Criminal Investigations Division.
In 2010, the Board of Directors of the 10th Judicial District Drug and Violent Crime Task Force offered him the position of director, and he became administrator of the four-county agency. Along with his administrative duties that included budget and personnel, Capt. Lawson actively supervised numerous task force agents who investigated drug trafficking cases and serious violent crimes, including murder and human trafficking, within the 10th Judicial District.
In 2014, he returned to the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office in his familiar role of captain of the Criminal Investigations Division. During his latest tenure at BCSO, the detective division produced the fourth best burglary solution rate in the State of Tennessee among all local law enforcement agencies, he said.
Capt. Lawson stated, “I am extremely proud of our statistics regarding how well we solve burglaries, but our success in not mine alone. It has been a true team effort involving the finest detectives I have ever had the honor to supervise, and the real credit for our success belongs to them.”
Throughout his law enforcement career, Capt. Lawson said he has taken every opportunity to expand his professional knowledge through training. He is a graduate of both the Tennessee Law Enforcement Basic Training Academy in 1979, as well as the Cleveland State Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy in 2007. Among dozens of specialized law enforcement training schools Lawson has attended over the years are legal aspects of law enforcement, major criminal case investigation, criminal investigation techniques and procedures, fingerprint collection and analysis, homicide case investigation, and auto theft investigation, to name just a few.
Capt. Lawson is a life-long resident of Bradley County, and he is the son of the late Sheriff Lamar Lawson and Faye Lawson.
He said, “The citizens of this county must be able to trust their sheriff to be truthful and honest in all matters. if we cannot trust the sheriff to do the right thing, then it’s definitely time for a change.
“I believe to be an effective sheriff, one must cooperate with all local and state governing agencies and officials in order to provide the best law enforcement protection for our community. I will implement checks and balances to ensure each tax dollars is spent for the maximum benefit of Bradley County.
“When a person makes the decision to offer themselves to serve in public office, one question defines their true purpose: “do i intend to be a public servant or self-servant?
“My promise to the citizens of Bradley County is to dedicate myself totally to the duties of this office. I will not be involved in questionable side businesses, shady deals, the bonding business, or any other conflict of interest. this is a full time job, and frankly, we deserve a full-time sheriff.
“I want to personally thank all the employees of the department for keeping their focus on the citizens of Bradley County and for their dedicated service. I want to ensure them my goal is to restore integrity to the office of sheriff, and to build back the pride we all once felt for the department we serve.
“I want to thank my mother, my wife Connie, sons Stephen, Dustin, and Chase, and my sister Connie Lawson Woods, for their unwavering support as I prayerfully consider what I could do to restore the community’s faith in our sheriff’s office. I also want to thank my church family at Mt. Olive Ministries for their continued support and prayers. I humbly ask for the support and prayers of every citizen of Bradley County as we move forward in this campaign.”
Having run for the office of sheriff before as a Democrat, Capt. Lawson explained his move to the Republican Party: “The beliefs and principles of the National Democratic Party are not the conservative beliefs and principles I was taught as a child growing up in Bradley County. Like President Ronald Reagan, and our own beloved Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, I chose the Republican Party for its conservative values. Today I am proud to be an active member of the Bradley County Republican Party. I sincerely appreciate the warm welcome I have received from party members and party leadership.”
He said, “In closing, I want to say I stand on my 23 years of honest, ethical, public service with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and 10th Judicial Drug Task Force. If you want to know how I will serve as your sheriff, look no further than my past. You can count on me ‘to talk the talk’ and ‘walk the walk’ as your next sheriff. Our history defines who we really are, and what we will become.
“I sincerely ask for your support and prayers as we move forward in this campaign.