Commissioner addresses national body

Published 2:53 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2017

COLUMBUS, OH – Bertie County Commissioner Tammy Lee recently returned from attending the National Association of County Commissioners (NACo) annual meeting held in Columbus, Ohio on July 21-24.

Commissioners from across the United States attended dozens of sessions on topics ranging from leadership skills, intelligent transportation and regional connectivity to marijuana regulation and public entity cyber risks. They also explored counties’ roles in the justice system and its effect on public policy.

As nearly 11 million people are admitted to county and other local jails every year nationwide, counties are uniquely positioned to lead efforts to advance safety and justice through reducing the misuse and overuse of jails. Five new issue briefs from NACo address key areas of local criminal justice systems that most affect counties and offer strategies counties can employ to address these issues, make their justice systems work more effectively and efficiently, and ultimately lead to safer and healthier communities.

The national body also asked Commissioners to urge their representatives in Washington in Congress, especially those who serve on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, to provide sustained funding for federal Department of Justice (DOJ) programs that support county courts and law enforcement, juvenile justice and other assorted agencies in the annual appropriations process.

Lee is entering her second year on the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee.

Lee spoke about the county’s Law Enforcement Cadet Program instituted through Bertie STEM High School.

“I got questions about how the students are chosen and what enrollment looks like for the new (school) year,” Lee said. “It was a wonderful topic to have.”

Lee related how the cadets sacrificed their Public Safety Day event last May 4 following the death of Sgt. Megan Callahan at the Bertie Correctional Institution in Windsor.

The goal of the event was about strengthening the relationship between citizens and law enforcement officials, and planned features booths, face painting, drone flying lessons, and other activities for the public to enjoy. Members of the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office, NC State Highway Patrol, NC Department of Public Safety, Bertie County Corrections, and other organizations had also planned to participate.

“I explained the start of the program – as well as the EMT program – that began with a committee and we went from there,” Lee explained. “I wanted to show them that for the first year there were no local tax dollars involved.”

Lee said the national meeting also featured forums allowing her fellow Commissioners to hear how others react and interact with their constituents in their role of local government.

“The different sessions and committee meetings showed what others had done and what we could bring back to our county,” she said.

“It was nice to be able to showcase Bertie County in that way because we are already a pilot program addressing the shortage of law enforcement in prisons nationally,” Lee acknowledged.

“Several members asked me to forward some of the information I had received from our state Department of Public Safety and that we have used,” she noted. “We need to tell our story and tell the good that’s out there that’s going on in our county. It was good to be a part of that.”