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Bushey brings more structure to sheriff’s office

Members of the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office staff include, seated from left, deputy Norman Sibley, deputy Kimberley Taylor, communications supervisor Tammy Ellis, deputy Keith Carmell and Middlesex High School resource officer deputy Ranger Freeman; standing from left, Lt. Jim Ellis, deputy Trey Blake, Captain M.E. Sampson, Captain and chief bailiff Paige Bishop, St. Clare Walker Middle School resource officer deputy Ben Langford, Sheriff David P. Bushey, deputy William Jordan, deputy Daniel Brooks, Sgt. Eric Epperly, and deputy Shawn Ward. Not pictured is detective C.B. Sibley. (Photo by Tom Hardin)

by Tom Chillemi
First of a series • Part 2

There is no “I” in “team.” And, Middlesex Sheriff David Bushey knows this.

His contagious energy has elevated the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office to a more professional level during his first year as sheriff, he explained during a recent tour of the renovated sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Bushey said he has led by showing respect—and getting it in return—which has improved morale. With his backing, the staff has gained confidence and has taken on leadership roles.

“Instead of telling me they have a problem, I want them to tell me what their solution is to that problem,” explained Sheriff Bushey who, like a good coach, directs with encouragement.

His team approach has welcomed and encouraged the sheriff’s staff of 42 persons to share input and develop ideas together, said Captain M.E. Sampson, who, like Sheriff Bushey, became a Middlesex deputy in 1994. “It’s absolutely been effective,” said Captain Sampson, “Everyone has contributed to improving the department. Respect works both ways. Morale has improved.”

In Bushey’s first year as sheriff, a policies and procedure manual has been implemented. It was adopted using the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services standards, and was fine tuned to meet the needs of Middlesex County, he said.

Using $12,000 in drug asset forfeiture funds, computers were installed in all patrol cars, which allows deputies to enter data on an incident immediately after it happens. “The computers get deputies back on the road quicker,” added Captain Sampson.

The computers contain E-911 maps which make it easier to find addresses, especially when multiple address numbers are posted at the end of a private road, said deputy Shawn Ward.

Detective C.B. Sibley said Sheriff Bushey has obtained updated forensic equipment and new cameras. “That’s what you have to have to catch the bad guys, because they are out there every day trying to figure out ways to not get caught.”

Sheriff Bushey was a Middlesex deputy from 1994 to 1999. He was chief deputy from 2000 to 2003. After that he worked in his diving and salvage business. He took office as sheriff on January 1, 2012.

Bushey said he has established better lines of communication between his office and the Middlesex County administration, and put in place checks and balances.

A credit card system has been instituted, and that signifies “trust” within the department, Captain Sampson explained. “We have gained his (Sheriff Bushey’s) trust, and that works both ways.”

Trust also extends to the county offices, Sampson added.

Middlesex County Administrator Matt Walker said, “I think Sheriff Bushey has demonstrated a great deal of professionalism in how he has tackled his first year. He exudes a positive ‘can-do’ attitude and spirit of cooperation that inspires others. 

“All of our constitutional officers bring experience and professionalism to their positions and together make a great team. In these times of ever increasing federal and state requirements on local governments in their ongoing efforts to shift their responsibilities to us, it is critical to have a team that works together to fulfill our respective missions of service to the citizens of Middlesex,” said Walker.

“We are all in this together. Several projects facing Middlesex will require a great deal of inter-departmental cooperation and coordination in order for the county to be successful. Sheriff Bushey has bolstered my confidence that our team can successfully address many of these. For example, our new school superintendent Dr. Taylor, Sheriff Bushey, and I plan to meet to review the county’s security measures at our schools,” said Walker.

During the first weeks of his term, Sheriff Bushey learned “incident-based reporting” had not been done for a year and his department was in danger of losing about $700,000 in state funds. The State Compensation Board gave the sheriff’s office until March 2012 to enter the data. Bushey said communications supervisor Tammy Ellis worked day and night for two months sifting through data to meet that deadline.

Every deputy and dispatcher attended at least one school in 2012. There was no cost for most of the schools. Currently, all of his staff meet or exceed standards set by the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Among the changes was returning to the traditional “class A” deputy uniforms, which are brown and tan and “more professional looking,” he said. The casual all-black uniforms were eliminated.

The sheriff’s building has been remodeled and reorganized. What had become a storage area was turned into an interrogation room. Deputies now have two computer stations to complete reports.

“There is more to be done, but together we have made good progress,” said Sheriff Bushey.

A future article will explain other changes made in Sheriff Bushey’s first year in office.

posted 01.02.2013

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