UNION — The men and women of the Union County Sheriff’s Office are on duty for another four years.
Sheriff David Taylor’s second term in office officially began Wednesday morning when he was sworn in by the Union County Clerk of Court during a ceremony in the main courtroom of the Union County Courthouse. Taylor, who has been sheriff since 2009, was reelected in November. He could not, however continue serving as sheriff until being sworn in by Freddie Gault.
Also sworn in by Gault Wednesday were the deputies of the investigative, patrol, and narcotics divisions of the sheriff’s office, the reserve deputies, and the jailers of the jail division. Though not an elected official like the sheriff, the deputies and jailers serve at the pleasure of the sheriff and the law requires they be sworn in when he is.
While Gault swore him and his deputies and jailers in, Taylor himself swore in the members of his office/administrative staff.
Taylor spoke during Wednesday’s ceremony, first thanking his employees and their families for the sacrifices they’ve made.
“I know that many of these folks sitting together in this group have worked many hours during the holidays,” Taylor said. “To you, I am thankful for your service to Union County. To your families, I am also grateful for the service and the sacrifice that you make, not just through the holidays, but everyday that I make demands on your law enforcement family member. I thank you.”
Taylor then spoke about his four years in office.
“Four years ago, we set out on a new endeavor in our lives,” Taylor said. “That was the first time many of you had ever gone through a change in the office of sheriff. I went through it and I must say, it was not pleasant for me and I ultimately left a job that I felt I would retire from, a Union County deputy sheriff.
“Little did I know, but God wanted me to broaden my horizons, to learn more, to experience more and to teach me that he is still in control,” he said. “Some of those experiences were good and some are not so pleasant to remember. But every experience helped me to learn something. I had to face good and bad challenges in my career and in my personal life.”
Taylor also spoke on the importance of the personnel of the sheriff’s office having the proper attitude when faced by challenges in the performance of their duties.
“We at the Union County Sheriff’s Office continually face challenges, how we view them defines us,” Taylor said. “Do we choose to see the challenges as steppingstones or as obstacles? If we choose to see them as obstacles, then the challenges we face will be viewed as problems, problems that need to be overcome. A great deal of wasted energy can be spent focusing on a negative mindset: ‘I can’t,’ ‘I won’t,’ ‘I don’t want to,’ and ‘I shouldn’t have to.’
“I want us at the Union County Sheriff’s Office to see challenges as steppingstones,” he said. “Opportunities that we have encountered along the way for us to use, that we can achieve more, develop further and ultimately actualize more of our goals. How many of you thought that four years ago that our department would accomplish what we have accomplished in four years? I would say not many of you.”
Taylor recalled how he, Chief Deputy Perry Haney and Capt. James McNeil did believe that the accomplishments of the past four years could be achieved and who could help them achieve it.
“There were nights that Perry Haney, James McNeil and I sat in my house to discuss these stepping stones,” Taylor said. “Among the things we discussed were vision, staff diversity and staff development as stepping stones and not as obstacles. We also talked about which employees would ‘buy’ into our stepping stones — teamwork approach. We knew that staff like John Sherfield, Jeff Lawson, Terry Humphries, and David Kitchens was those types who would ‘buy’ into our vision.”
Taylor also spoke on the creating of a vision for the sheriff’s office and the pitfalls that had to be avoided in doing so.
“We knew there was so much information out there in terms of developing a vision for the sheriff’s office, too much in fact,” Taylor said. “We needed to guard against the temptation to create a vision that was too broad, too encompassing and ultimately a vision that is too generic, that eventually says nothing. We needed to be mindful to focus on quality and not quantity. If a new idea comes along, do we suddenly throw out the old? Absolutely not.
“We knew that the people at the Union County Sheriff’s Office needed to be committed to our vision,” he said. “We need to draw on tried and true experience and hold onto what works, we need to introduce new thinking and approaches where feasible and we needed to stop what isn’t working. We at the Union County Sheriff’s Office need to create a vision whereby our names become synonymous with excellence, innovation, honor, integrity and outstanding quality and service. We knew folks would get on board, like Robbie Hines, Sheila Hunnicutt, and many others. We brought on Kim Riddle-Bailey and she saw our vision. Kim bought in on our vision and has been great! If we keep our vision simple, yet focused, then we will have turned defining our vision into a stepping stone, one which we will use to reach even greater heights.”
Taylor also touted the diversity of the sheriff’s office.
“Some may choose to see diversity as an obstacle, dividing rather that unifying,” Taylor said. “We see diversity as a stepping stone. We focus on the individuals strengths and use their strengths in a very goal-directed mission with our organization. We are so fortunate to have personnel that have enhanced our vision with their special talents, talents given willingly and passionately.”
The development of close working relationships with other law enforcement and government officials was also touted by Taylor.
“We worked hard at building a strong relationship with Solicitor Kevin Brackett and Assistant Solicitor John Anthony,” Taylor said. “They are a large part of why we have been so successful the last four years. We can call them anytime, day or night, for advice and they answer the phone. We are so fortunate to have them to work with us to prosecute cases.
“Clerk of Court Freddie Gault has worked with us getting criminals out of jail and into the Department of Corrections so that the state pays the bill and not the county,” he said. “County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair and county council have just been excellent to work with. They have the citizens of Union County to serve and they do an excellent job.”
Taylor concluded by reiterating the importance of treating challenges as steppingstones.
“Well I guess it’s a lot like a day at the beach, magical and amazing,” Taylor said. “But then there is also the sunburn, the sand in your bathing suits, cold water, hot sand and perhaps even a stomach that may be looking decidedly less six-packish. We can look at the obstacles and it will spoil our day at the beach, or we can look for steppingstones and it will be magical.
“The Union County Sheriff’s Office, jail, and emergency services are not perfect, we’ll keep working on that,” he said. “Attitude is a key component in facing life with the right mindset. We have our moments, but I suspect that underneath it all we all think we’re kind of special. And I think each and everyone one of my staff is special too. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life and thank you for your support these past four years and I appreciate your continued support.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.