Spotlight: Livingston County Sheriff Bobby Davidson
AT A GLANCE...
Elected Sheriff of Livingston County in 2011
Graduate of Livingston County High School.
2006 Department of Criminal Justice Training Basic Training Academy
He and his wife, Jacqueline, live in Salem, KY.
WHAT POSITIVE CHANGES HAVE YOU MADE SINCE BECOMING SHERIFF?
I took office in January 2011. I realized the office was in need of serious change to be brought up to the standards of a modern, full-service police agency. I was very fortunate to have a good working relationship with our fiscal court, which continues today. Since I took office we have been able to obtain a new fleet of lower-mileage cars, two of them being four-wheel drive units. We outfitted deputies with new body armor, Tasers and shotguns. We dedicated a deputy to the Livingston County School System at no additional cost to the county or school system. While this took a deputy off the road, we have seen it pay big dividends with our relationship with the school system and students. Additionally, we brought the DARE program back into the schools approximately four years ago. I believe it is easier to stop a problem before it starts, and if we save one person from going down the road of bad decisions and drug dependency/abuse then the program has been a success.
Upon taking office, I made criminal investigations a priority. Prior to this administration I don’t recall a case ever being solved with fingerprint or DNA evidence. This is done more often now.
I have hired several retired officers from other agencies, most of which have a background in criminal investigations and collision reconstruction.
WHAT SINGLE WORD DO YOU THINK BEST DESCRIBES YOUR OFFICE, AND WHAT KEEPS YOU UNIFIED?
Accountability. Everyone is held accountable for their actions, work performance, appearance, etc. This helps us foster a professional image and provide quality service for our citizens.
HOW DO YOU RETAIN GOOD OFFICERS?
We retain deputies through accountability. If you work here, you are going to do a good job. You are going to see things through to the end. The days of passing the buck and dropping the ball are in the past. I firmly believe that someone who wants to be a professional police officer wants to work in an environment where high quality is the norm. It is my belief that this, above everything else, gives us a better pool of applicants and keeps current employees here.
WHAT ARE YOUR AGENCY’S SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM GOALS?
Short term, I want us to maintain the ground we have gained in the past five years. It is easy to have many goals and ideas and spread your manpower so thin you aren’t effectively doing the basics. The basics are what we are here for day in and day out.
One of my main long-term goals is to institute a citizens’ police academy. I firmly believe there is a huge issue in our country between law enforcement officers and the public simply because the public is not aware of what we face every day, and they are not familiar with the laws that dictate what we as officers can and cannot do. While the citizens of Livingston County have been behind us from the beginning, I believe by educating the public we can clear up some misconceptions citizens may have about the function of rural law enforcement.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A NEW LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER/DEPUTY ENTERING LAW ENFORCEMENT?
Many young people come to our office with an interest in beginning a career in law enforcement or to do a ride-along with a deputy. When I get an opportunity to talk to someone considering this line of work as a career, I tell them this job is very rewarding, you can make a decent living in some places and you experience things, both good and bad, that the general public never will understand. Conversely, I make them aware that this job can be hard on marriages and family life if you and your spouse aren’t on the same page about plans you have as a family. I also make them aware that the danger in this job is real and tell them to consider that before they decide to pursue law enforcement as a career.
I applaud young people who want to pursue law enforcement as a career in the present time given the climate that media projects regarding the thoughts, feelings and beliefs the public has about law enforcement officers in 2016.