Proffitt announces write-in candidacy for sheriff

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   Four days after terrorists struck the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, former Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Jerry Proffitt received his call to active duty from the Navy.
   Up until that time, he said, he had full intentions of running for sheriff of Carter County in the Aug. 1 General Election. Now, because the government is reducing the number of reservists who were called up, Proffitt has received about a two-month early out and has announced that he will be a write-in candidate for sheriff.
   "With the short notice, I didn't have a chance to complete or get on the ballot for sheriff of Carter County, which I had planned to do," he said. "I apologize for coming in late because of my military obligations, but it was no choice of my own."
   As a Master of Arms, or MA1, Proffitt served as a member of the Navy military police and was stationed in Pascagoula, Miss., until the end of May, when he began processing out.
   A lifetime member of Carter County Rescue Squad, had Proffitt not been called to active duty, he would have marked 28 years this month with Tennessee Highway Patrol. Before joining the Naval Reserve in 1984 as a military police officer, Proffitt served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam as a member of the 173rd Airborne Division, airborne infantry, and also served in the National Guard in Elizabethton from 1994 to 1996. From there, he went to the Naval Reserve in Knoxville as a Master at Arms.
   Proffitt graduated from Mountain City High School and attended East Tennessee State University before graduating from Walters State Community College with an associate's degree in Criminal Justice Technology. While in the military he has attended a criminal investigation school in Chesapeake Bay, Va., received terrorism training in California during exercises involving Navy police, trained with the Navy SEALS in Puerto Rico, and spent three weeks in training at a naval prison in Charleston, S.C.
   "Since I was called to active duty in September, police work is all that I've been doing with the Navy," Proffitt said. At the Pascagoula Naval Station, Proffitt served as the shift's leading petty officer. "My duties were generally police work on the base and patrol boats, taking care of the destroyers that were docked at the base."
   Proffitt was assigned to temporary duty to guard the U.S.S. Cole, which had been docked there to undergo repairs since nearly being destroyed in Yemen by terrorists over a year ago. "There had been numerous terrorist threats on the Cole -- that they were going to sink it, or try to finish what they started in Yemen," he said.
   Running for sheriff has been "a lifetime ambition for me," Proffitt said. Now, he believes, it's time for him to take a more personal role and apply his knowledge of law enforcement toward helping the residents of Carter County "and maybe take care of some of the problems. Drugs are going to be one of the primary elements that we're going to try to eliminate."
   Proffitt said he also hopes to make the sheriff's department "more efficient than it already is with the means we have, and make the people proud of the sheriff's department. I'm not saying that the Carter County people are not already proud of the sheriff's department. They should be. But if there is room for improvement, I plan to seek it out and make improvements in every department that I can."
   Having spent a lot of time in courtrooms as a THP trooper, Proffitt said, "I think the supervision could improve the standards for the officers, especially the new ones going into court, so they could present a more viable case against the people they are prosecuting."
   Proffitt, 52, 220 Sunrise Drive, is married to the former LaDonnia Salyer. The Proffitts have two sons and a daughter: Brad, Jeremy and Lindsey. Proffitt also has three stepsons: Justin, Jason and Jamin Buckles.
   The Proffitts attend Riverview Baptist Church where LaDonnia's father, Homer Salyer, was a preacher.