Message from Sheriff Shane Russell
Wow, 2023 was a very busy and blessed year serving as your Sheriff. On January 1, we hit the ground running-wasting no time implementing new and positive changes for the Sheriff's Office benefiting Sharp County now and for many years to come. Some changes may go unnoticed by the general public; however, for the employees and the agencies we work with, they create a cohesive department and partnership. There are still many kinks and tweaks to work out, but I believe the Sheriff's office is headed in the right direction.
Sharp County saw a lot of action in 2023. If you watched the news at all, you know it was a busy year. From Deputy Sgt. Lane King's response to a road-side call of a choking baby to Lt. Bryce Trivitt's child abduction call, response and subsequent rescue of the toddler that had been abducted, there was not a dull moment for us.
One of my goals as Sheriff is to be more community oriented. This past year we began working on that goal. We set up a tent and served hotdogs and chips at Rocky Top during Highland's Senior Night, then on Halloween we held the first "Blue Light Block Party". Our deputies and office staff had a great time decorating their tailgates, passing out candy and visiting with the kids and parents of the community. I had a blast manning the grill-cooking over 100 hotdogs. Despite the cold weather, we loved seeing you all and greatly appreciate your support for this event. Plans are already being made for this year's Block Party. Of course, we always love our annual "Shop with a Cop" program. It gives all of our law enforcement departments and first responders a chance to interact with the youth of the community in a positive way. I can probably speak for everyone by saying this has been, and is, the highlight of our job.
Speaking of "Shop with a Cop", one of the biggest accomplishments of 2023 and onward into 2024 was establishing the Sharp County Sheriff's Foundation. By the end of December 2023, we received our 501c3 status. For donors of Shop with a Cop, this means that you will now be able to receive a tax deduction for your donation. The establishment of this foundation offers the community a way to provide tax-deductible financial support for the Sharp County Sheriff's office beyond the scope of the normal operating budget, allows us to impact the community in a positive way, and financially helps the sheriff's department create more opportunities for positive law enforcement/community interactions.
These changes would not have been possible if not for the support and encouragement of each of you. It has been a pleasure to protect and serve the citizens of Sharp County. I, along with my department, look forward to continuing to ensure that Sharp County continues to be one of the best places to live.
Highlights from some of the improvements we have made this past year:
- Acquired numerous grants that help offset the cost of budget- one in particular is an opioid grant for over $300,000 to hire an opioid investigator and peer specialist. These positions will work closely with the 3rd Judicial Task Force which we helped reestablish.
- The 3rd Judicial Task Force made over 40 arrests with over $1.6 million drugs taken off our streets.
- Updated communication software, radios, and moved from an analog system to a digital signal.
- Updated reporting software to keep everyone up to date, to provide an extra layer of safety to our deputies, and to ensure data and records can interact with each other.
- Replaced, updated, and performed required maintenance on department patrol vehicles.
- Provided additional training for deputies and adopted a new 12-hour schedule with positive effects; developed a new policy manual to be adopted in early 2024.
- Fielded over 30,000 calls, served over 2500 Sharp County warrants, worked 659 cases, closed 40 sexual assault cases, performed 439 transports.