A Solemn Promise: Carter County deputies take oath of office

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Photo by Abby Morris-Frye Judge Keith Bowers, at right, administers the oath of office to Sheriff's Department employees.

Photo by Abby Morris-Frye
Judge Keith Bowers, at right, administers the oath of office to Sheriff’s Department employees.

Several officers of the Sheriff’s Department gathered Tuesday afternoon in a special ceremony to take their oath of office.
The ceremony is the second of four the department will hold until every officer has taken the oath. Some officers took the oath to reaffirm their commitment to the department and the community they serve while others were taking the oath for the first time.

The previous sheriff’s department administration did not require corrections officers to take the oath of office, but Sheriff Dexter Lunceford changed that policy when he took office.
Prior to Tuesday afternoon’s ceremony, Chief Deputy James Parrish explained the legal reasons behind the oath and why it is important for the officers.
“All deputies and deputy jailer guards will be sworn in,” Parrish said. “If you wear the uniform you are not going to be a civilian.”
State law requires that deputies take the same oath of office as the sheriff does when he takes office, Parrish said, adding that includes officers working in the detention center as jailers.
“This is not merely a matter of ceremony,” Parrish said. “The oath is a promise.”
As he spoke, Parrish explained the three core values of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department: integrity, courage and service before self. He then charged the officers to become “servant leaders” and to fulfill the duties of their office with “integrity and character.”
Before the ceremony started, First Sgt. Sean Johnson spoke to the group of officers about the significance and solemnity of the oath. In years past, Johnson said the department had not treated the oath with the reverence it was due. That, he said, was one of the reasons behind the department holding the special ceremonies.
“The very oath you make today may someday require you to give your life in defense of a citizen or one of your brothers or sisters in arms,” Johnson said.
In the law enforcement profession, Johnson said there are good days but there are also difficult times. “Honoring this oath, honoring your fellow officers and honoring this profession will get you through the hard days,” he said.
Johnson encouraged the officers to turn to each other for support in those difficult times and to help one another, and he pledged his support to them if it was ever needed.
“I will not let you fail if it is within my power to stop it or correct it,” Johnson promised his fellow officers.
When the ceremony began, Johnson read the names of the officers off one by one, asking each to stand. Once all the officers were standing, Judge Keith Bowers administered the oath to them as they held their right hand up.
The oath sworn by the officers is as follows:
“I do solemnly swear that I will perform with fidelity the duties of the office to which I have been appointed, and which I am about to assume. I do solemnly swear to support the constitutions of Tennessee and the United States and to faithfully perform the duties of the office of Deputy Sheriff for Carter County, Tennessee. I further swear that I have not promised or given, nor will I give any fee, gift, gratuity, or reward for this office or for aid in procuring this office; that I will not take any fee, gift, or bribe, or gratuity for returning any person as a juror or for making any false return of any process and that I will faithfully execute the office of deputy sheriff to the best of my knowledge and ability, agreeably to law.”

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