Ron Long plans to show the citizens of Pulaski County “a new kind of Sheriff's office” under his administration.
Wednesday morning, after his Tuesday night election win, Long discussed some of the ideas he plans to put into practice when he takes office in January.
Long wants to implement a few new programs aimed at making the Sheriff's office more accessible to the public.
Town hall meetings
Long said that he immediately wants to implement a program in which he holds town-hall style meeting with different towns across the county. Long said he plans to hold a meeting in a different town once a week until he's had a meeting in all of them, then he will hold meetings once a month in the same style.
Long said he would like the sheriff's office to have a stronger community presence and wants to make himself more available to hear public concerns.
“I need to be visible and in touch with them (the people),” Long said. “We'll invite the public in (to the meetings). If they want to stay for ten minutes or two hours, they can do that.”
Long said he believes in an open-door policy, but the business of the sheriff can make it difficult to meet with people and hear concerns, having the meetings will help that issue.
Teen advisory board
The second program Long intends to put into practice as soon as he can get it into place is a teen advisory board.
“I want to be aggressive with trying to keep our kids out of trouble,” Long said.
Teens from high schools all over the county will be invited to fill out an application to serve on the board. Long said he would like to have “two or three kids from each high school” serve on the board to help “develop programs to keep them (other teens) away from drugs or trouble.”
“I'm looking for intelligent and creative kids,” Long said.
Long said he plans to reach out to area high schools, seek teens for the advisory board, and hold meetings with them to help with his goals of keeping other teens off of drugs and the use of alcohol.
Reserve program/ budgeting
Another area Long intends to make changes is in the reserve officer program. Long said he wants to get the reserve officers more involved in the Sheriff's office and plans to promote the program more heavily.
“I plan on using the heck out of our reserves,” Long said.
Long said he would like to make the Sheriff's department more “self-sufficient and less dependent on grants and things,” but would have to have a good look at the books and budget before he could formulate a plan.'
Long said that he believes some changes need to be made with the jail situation. Pulaski County currently pays other counties and cities to house inmates daily because there isn't room in the Pulaski County jail.
Pulaski County Sheriff J.B. King reported in his weekly column this week that the county was paying $1,575 a day to house inmates elsewhere.
“We have got to come up with a solution to that jail,” Long said.
The County Commission has been discussing and exploring options for building a new jail inside the old middle school purchased from Waynesville School District, but has not made any commitments or solid plans to actually build a jail.
Long said he believes he'll be able to work with the Pulaski County Commission and thinks he'll have “a good relationship with the commissioners” as they work together on the issues facing the sheriff's office.