Ceremony honors deputies, volunteers

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By John Barnhart

Sheriff Mike Brown believes that a sheriff is only as good as the people who work for him.


    “Y’all make me look good,” he said to a gathering of deputies and volunteers.

    Part of the gathering’s purpose was to recognize promotions made at the beginning of the year. One promotion, that of Tim Hayden from lieutenant to captain, was a landmark for the sheriff’s office as Hayden became the first black captian in the history of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office. Hayden was originally hired as a deputy by Sheriff Carl Wells, Sheriff Brown’s immediate predecessor.

    Prior to his new rank, Hayden acquired a new family. After his aunt, who had adopted four children, passed away, Hayden and his wife adopted the children, keeping them together.

    Carl Wells, by the way, is still involved with the Sheriff’s Office, and this involvement was honored with a citizen appreciation award. Wells owns D. Reynolds, a men’s clothing store in Bedford, and Wells and Ruth Crouch, who manages the store, were recognized for the free services they provide deputies altering uniforms and sewing on patches.

    “Please accept our supreme thanks and know you are appreciated,” Brown said.

    “It’s just something to give back to the community,” Wells said.

    In addition to doing this for the Sheriff’s Office, D. Reynolds also does this for the Bedford Police Department and the area’s volunteer fire departments and rescue squads. Wells said that being a former sheriff gave him a feel for the need.

    Sheriff Brown also honored Tom Starke, a private investigator. Brown said that Starke has often loaned high-tech equipment to the Sheriff’s Office that it doesn’t have.

    Various businessmen were also noted. Brown said that Jeff Graff provided Blue Ridge Thunder with the use of a building, free of charge, from which it conducted Internet investigations. Louis Creasy, owner of Shop Rite, and John White, owner of Mariner’s Landing, both provide space for a satellite sheriff’s office at their businesses.

    Sheriff Brown offered thanks to the Forest and Huddleston Volunteer fire departments. When deputies were searching for a missing 13-year-old last month in a wooded portion of the New London area after dark, these two fire departments showed up with thermal imaging equipment to aid the effort.

    Another group that came in for honors are the 18 members of the Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP). These are retirees who wear a uniform and perform a number of duties, such as directing traffic at funerals, that don’t require a sworn officer. If it weren’t for the RSVP, a deputy would have to be assigned to these duties. Brown said that the RSVP saves the Sheriff’s Office $115,000 per year.

    The RSVP was established in 2001. They wear a brown uniform, like those worn by deputies, that designates them as RSVP. They have radios and use Sheriff’s Office cruisers marked as volunteer. Prior to going to work, they complete a two week training course where they learn about crime prevention techniques, traffic control methods, school safety initiatives and unlocking vehicles for stranded  motorists.

    “We will unlock a vehicle,” said Brown.

    RSVP members direct funeral traffic, perform welfare checks on elderly people and security checks  on the houses of people on vacation. They also pick up Sheriff’s Office vehicles that have been repaired or painted and deliver paperwork to the county administration building and the courthouse.

    “They never say ‘no’” says Sheriff Brown. “They are willing to tackle any job we need them to do, and it’s always with a smile.  I don’t know what we’d do without them