Peters seeks to take sheriff's department in new direction

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   County sheriff candidate E. John Peters believes the Carter County Sheriff's Department needs a new look and new blood to take the department into a new era of law enforcement.
   "When I worked at the sheriff's department for my father, I saw how important the job is and how it touches the lives in every department in the county," said Peters, 38, son of the late Paul Peters, who served as the county's sheriff from 1990 to 1996.
   "A sheriff must lead by example," he said. "His character, his manner, his reputation will impact the rest of the department."
   Peters spent two years with the sheriff's department in the early 1990s. The stint allowed him to absorb a considerable amount of law enforcement experience and training in criminal investigations, administration, and SWAT operations, he said.
   "I believe a good work ethic should be applied in anything you do," he said. Peters graduated from Unaka High School and attended Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville, Ky.
   He has been employed at Mapes Piano Inc., for the past nine years.
   Peters said if elected he intended to increase officers in the department's drug enforcement, improve the criminal investigations division, improve response time, and keep the budget efficient.
   He said he would be particularly aggressive in fighting the problem of drug use and drug trafficking in the county.
   He also said that as a husband and father of two children, he recognized the concerns of the county's citizens regarding public safety.
   "I have the same concerns and fears as the resident or the parents. I've seen the effects that drugs and alcohol can have on people's lives."
   Peters also felt what set him apart from the other candidates was his ability to understand the civilians as a neighbor and friend. He noted that his father was a working man who, as sheriff, had a better grasp of citizens' problems due to his experience in the private sector.
   "The sheriff's department is a public service. You can't just lump everything together," he added. "As sheriff I will give the people straight answers, and if I tell them I'm going to do something, I'll do it. If I can't do it, I will tell them why I can't."
   Peters said he would strengthen the department's partnership with the county's school system, improve community relations with the public and increase the department's visibility in the county's rural areas.
   "We would be in touch with every community so they would feel like the department was at work and concerned about their community -- not that the department was just in town," he said.
   He also noted how the methods of community-based policing practiced at departments around the country were reducing crime by making the public partners with police.
   "Our times have changed," he said. "We need to take the sheriff's department to the people."
   He also said the department's criminal investigations division would be revamped to expedite investigations.
   "Investigations would've been more thorough with burglaries, vandalism, theft, and domestic violence, and every effort would be made to either solve the crime or find a solution to the problem," he said.
   Peters felt the department's existing personnel had the qualifications to do their jobs, and said he didn't feel wholesale changes in the department would be necessary if he was elected.
   However, he felt the department needed to be taken in a different direction.
   "I really believe we need a change, and a change for the better," he said, "not the same old business as usual."