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Let the battle begin: Ford throws his hat in ring for Sheriff

Taking the podium prior to his official announcement as a candidate for Washington County sheriff, Craig Ford said he was overwhelmed by the response from the crowd at the Jonesborough Visitors Center on Jan. 16.
“I feel like I’ve been preparing most of my life for this,” he added.
The tone of the event changed as Ford shifted to the “story after story” he has heard from residents regarding the poor service they have received from the WCSO, which includes slow response times and no follow up.
While Ford admits he did not investigate to confirm the validity of the claims, he said the concerns were shared by crime victims who were calling him and asking for help. “The WCSO never showed up when the alarm went off at my house,” he noted.
Ford said other individuals were promised their neighborhoods would be monitored following a crime incident. “One had people from their church come over who sat outside, and they never saw a patrol car,” he said.
Lack of follow-up in building the School Resource Officer program was another criticism. Ford said he secured the grant to hire the county’s first two SROs while working as an employee of the WCSO, but ongoing efforts to add additional officers were neglected.
When asked his opinion on the Board of Education’s goal of having an SRO in every county school, Ford said he supports it. “I think it’s important to do that,” he said. “There are plenty of studies that would say SROs are not the best defense, but in aging buildings that were not built for security, they are the most practical.”
If elected, this would be Ford’s third WCSO employment. “I started as a jailer and worked my way up to chief deputy,” he said of his first tenure. “The current chief then recommended me to come to Jonesborough as a captain in the police department.”
Ford returned to the WCSO at the invitation of Sheriff Fred Phillips who asked him to serve as the chief deputy when the county was preparing to open the newly constructed Detention Center.
He went back to the Town of Jonesborough following discussions of contracting services with the WCSO and doing away with the town police department. “I prepared the proposal for the WCSO to take over, but there was a public outcry from residents who were not willing to give up their own police and fire departments even if they needed improvements,” he said. Ford currently serves as operations manager and chief of public safety.
When questioned about his reversing roles with the town and county governments, Ford emphasized he has worked for one or the other continuously since 1985 and is certain about his current pursuit. “I started with Washington County, and I would like to end my career with Washington County,” he said.