Letter to the Editor: Cain address negative social media comments, reinforces support of Smith

May 16, 2022 | 12:02 am

Updated May 15, 2022 | 6:59 pm

Graphic by Owensboro Times

As most of you are aware, I endorsed Sheriff Barry Smith’s appointment as my replacement upon my retirement last December. I was convinced then, as I am now, there was no one more qualified, more knowledgeable, or more deserving to lead the Sheriff’s Office.

It takes years of hard work in an office of this size to familiarize one’s self with every facet of the organization. Sheriff Smith, like myself, dedicated his entire career doing exactly that. He has spent the last 27 years, working for, learning from, leading and improving the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office.

He has literally done just about everything one can do in a career here. His duties have included judicial security, tax collection, civil process, patrol duty, shift leadership, grant writing and management, vehicle procurement, and annual budgeting. Not only is he proficient in the law enforcement and constitutional duties of the office but also extremely well-versed in its business side. And he didn’t attain this knowledge by chasing every next big opportunity. No, he obtained it from years and years of hard work, dedication, and COMMITMENT, to the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office and those we serve.

DCSO’s focus has always been on reducing crime and improving the quality of life to our residents, businesses, and visitors. Our mission continues to be to serve with integrity, compassion, accountability, and professionalism. We have garnered a well-deserved reputation of one of the most progressive and professional law enforcement agencies, not only throughout the Commonwealth, but indeed, across our nation.

Over the past 25 years, there have been vast improvements made in hiring procedures, training, equipment, leadership preparedness, policy and salaries.

The Sheriff’s Office is, quite frankly, a great place to work and grow a career.

Because of this, it is sorrowful to see negative comments being posted on social media and elsewhere that would have you to believe the office is inept, broken, and even corrupt.  

Even more disappointing and hurtful is some of those people making these comments were once one of our number, once part of the Sheriff’s Office family.  My intent herein is not to disparage any of them.  Truth is, they’re good people who have led good lives serving our community, and in some cases our nation. However it is extremely frustrating to see them spreading “opinions” grounded in inaccuracies, to further their own personal agenda(s).

As your former Sheriff, I want to address some of these fallacies.

Failed Leadership

  • Was it failed leadership that gave these individuals an opportunity to continue their law enforcement careers, when they opined the law enforcement agency they left exhibited similar symptoms of “failed leadership?” 
  • Was it failed leadership that recognized their potential and assigned them coveted positions with our Criminal Investigations Division, even though this was an unpopular decision among many senior deputies of tenure with our office?
  • Was it failed leadership that provided them with the many opportunities to serve our community on multiple boards and committees which they currently espouse as their accomplishments?

Low Morale –

  • Morale, of course, should always be a concern. But I know too, that leadership, real and responsible leadership, sometimes requires us to make unpopular decisions for the betterment of the organization as a whole. You can’t always have it your way. My own experiences have taught me that motivation and morale are as much individual responsibilities, as are the often blamed external influences.

Retention of Deputies

  • Here are the facts concerning the “mass exodus” of deputies often referenced by the opposition.   In the past 4 years our Office has had 13 deputies leave our ranks. Most were for jobs in the private sector for better pay; 2 relocated to other jurisdictions due to family related issues; 7 additional deputies retired, celebrating long and rewarding careers with our office; and 2 (one of which has been among the most vocal and vile of those posting the negative messages on social media) resigned pending termination proceedings for substandard performance and unacceptable conduct.  

Too, there have been expressed concerns of Sheriff Smith not having served in our military. My love and respect for ALL our veterans is real and well known. We owe each of them a debt of gratitude that can never be adequately repaid. I enlisted in the Marines when I was 17.  I proudly fought for this country in Vietnam, and as I recall my experiences there, I can tell you what was always first and foremost on my mind, and I suspect of every combatant that deployed abroad, was never MY personal safety, but for how and who was watching over my family back home. It was people like Barry Smith who did not wear the uniform of the military, but that of a law enforcement officer.  They were keeping our loved ones safe in our absence. I think they are equally worthy of our appreciation for their service.

And finally, it has been stated our office has not responded sufficiently to the drug problem that has and continues to plague our community.  I take personal exception to this untruth.  I challenge anyone to find an agency that has dedicated more resources to this issue than have we. Whether aggressive enforcement, partnering with our treatment/rehabilitative facilities, engaging the community, or impacting legislation on both the State and National level to combat the problem. We, all of us, including then Major Smith, labored together in addressing this menace.  

We worked tirelessly to obtain a HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) designation. Just last year, after 15 years of efforts by many, we were finally successful. This partnership with federal entities is a force multiplier that will bring much needed resources, training, equipment, man power and money (at NO additional cost to the local tax payer) as we continue to address this priority.

All of these concerns are unwarranted and without merit.  

Politics can be dirty. The very mention of the word has negative connotations. But it doesn’t have to be, nor should it be.

As I previously stated it’s disappointing and saddening when good people, people I’ve known and respected for years – resort to these tired political tactics.

Is it too much to ask that both Sheriff candidates campaign on their own positive attributes and merit, as I know both to possess many.

Still, I remain convinced Sheriff Barry Smith is the right choice to lead this office and continue our legacy of service. Service our community has come to understandingly expect and justifiably deserves.

I have long believed the transition of leadership should occur within any organization when the organization is experiencing forward momentum. Not when it is in crisis. This helps ensure continued growth. It’s one of the many reasons that contributed to my decision to retire early.  

The Sheriff’s Office is in excellent shape, both fiscally and staffed with the caliber of deputies that continue to serve for all the right reasons.

And I have an unshakeable confidence in the belief that Sheriff Barry Smith is the person most capable of continuing this trend and will expand on our services, taking it to new heights.

I love this Office, I spent my entire adult life here, and know I would NEVER mislead you in my thoughts of who should take up its mantle.

Please join me with your support and vote to KEEP Sheriff Barry Smith at the helm of one of the greatest law enforcement agencies in our Country.

Written by
Retired Sheriff Keith Cain

May 16, 2022 | 12:02 am

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