There’s a new sheriff in Newton County. Shannon Cothran, an experienced Newton County police officer took office at the start of the new year.
Growing up, becoming a sheriff was always a goal of Cothran’s, especially
since law enforcement is something that runs in his family.
“This has been a goal since I was about five years old. My dad was a state
trooper and retired as a sergeant with the state. So, law enforcement has
always been in the family and my blood,” Cothran said. “The sheriff’s
office just seems to offer more of a direct community relation, which is
kind of more my focus.”
In order to be successful in his efforts to improve the sheriff’s
department’s communication with the community, Cothran believes in four
keywords: efficiency, courtesy, honesty, and organization.
“That’s the four primary fields that I am focusing on,” Cothran said.
Cothran is also placing much of his attention on the department’s newsletter, which can be received by emailing a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The hope is that the monthly newsletter will help to open a more direct line of communication between the sheriff and the public.
The department is also looking into receiving its own mobile app through partnering with a nationwide program called “Sheriff’s App”.
“On the app, we can send out push notifications so that if there is, let’s say a crash at 41 and 24 we can hurry up and get that out. If you have the app on your phone, you would get it as a push notification on your phone and don’t have to go to Facebook to find it.”
Another focal point Cothran has been tending to since he took office has been the community’s D.A.R.E. program. For those unfamiliar with the program, “D.A.R.E. is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten-12 grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives,” according to D.A.R.E.’s website.
This is Cothran’s fifth year leading the 10-week program, and he hopes to continue to be able to do it as time goes on.
“I really enjoy it,” he said. “I want to try and work out the time management issues to continue to be able to do that. It just means that if I’ve been doing that for a few hours, I need to come back to the office to catch up.”
According to Cothran, one of the bigger problems the department has been faced with recently has been employee retention. “Within the last five years or so, a lot of people are getting out of this profession. Those that have enough years to retire have. Not just in this department but nationwide,” he said. “There is not the applicant pool that there used to be. So the public interest in this field, corrections and law enforcement, has dwindled over the years. That’s why we want to try and be involved with the youth programs. Hopefully, it will spark some interest somewhere.”
One way Cothran hopes to stay involved with the youth programs is through the department staff’s involvement with community activities. “We, fortunately, have a lot of guys that, on their days off, are involved with coaching youth sports,” Cothran said. “That’s on their own time and is what they want to do. It’s good for them, it’s good for the kids and it’s good for us. So we are trying to support community involvement with coaching.”
Cothran has also implemented a “Lunch Buddy” program at the local elementary schools where officers will have lunch with the students. “It’s been great to hang out with the kids, have lunch with them, talk to them and get to know them and they get to know us. It really has worked out well.”
Cothran also noted that he is happy to be serving in this community.
“We are blessed and extremely fortunate to have a supportive community to serve.”