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Fraley announces candidacy for Sheriff in 2022

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
It seems like a long time until May of 2022 but when it comes to being a candidate for office, time cannot be wasted as that date will be upon one before they blink.

For that reason, Mike Fraley has made the decision to toss his hat into the ring as a candidate for Carter County Sheriff in the May 2022 Republican Primary.

Fraley, who admits that he is enjoying his retirement from the Carter County Sheriff’s Department after 31 years of service and teaching at the Police Academy in Greeneville, is doing so for the people of Carter County.

“I am enjoying retirement but it’s been overwhelming at the number of phone calls, texts, and messages that I have had,” said Fraley in talking of his decision. “I am going to run for the people of Carter County.

“I have a history with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department of 31 years and I know how to do the job and I know there are good people at the Carter County Sheriff’s Department and we are going to make it a better place to live because I have a mindset that when I leave a job I want it to be better than when I found it.

“There were a lot of good things that happened over 30-plus years and I want to build on that and if I am fortunate enough to be elected, I want to leave it better than when I found it.”

Fraley grew up in Carter County and is a graduate of the Elizabethton High School Class of 1985.

He began his career in law enforcement in 1989 when he was hired by Sheriff Bill Crumley and attended the Police Academy. In his career, he has worked under five different sheriffs over his 31 years.

“I served in every role in the department that you can think of and working for five different administrations I saw a lot of good things work and I saw things that didn’t work,” Fraley said.

“I don’t know all the answers but I will do the best I can and that’s what I plan on doing. My number one goal in running for sheriff is that I want to change the mindset.

“Instead of ‘that’s not my job’ it’s going to be ‘how can we help’ period. I am running for the people of Carter County. I am not running against one person or a couple of people — I am running because I want to do the job and it’s as simple as that.”

Fraley’s desire to serve in law enforcement comes from deep within his bloodline as his father and brother also are and were involved in law enforcement.

“My dad was a police officer with the Elizabethton Police Department for 36 years,” Fraley commented. “My brother is currently a TBI agent who started out at the Sheriff’s Department as a reserve officer and went to the Elizabethton Police Department for 12 years, and for the last 10 or 11 years, he has been with the TBI.”

Fraley was very complimentary of those who have already announced their candidacy for the office of sheriff.

He further stated that if elected, that he will be looking to implement a 10-point plan.

“The first is to change the mindset and the second one is going to be more officers on the streets, period — end of the discussion,” Fraley stated.

“When I started there in 1989, there were 43 employees. In 2021, they have almost 140. With that being said, in 1989 you had four patrol officers per shift and in 2021 you still have four patrol officers per shift.

“I am going to increase that. I have a plan and that is to streamline some job duties and people instead of being so dialed into one thing, they are going, and again it goes back to a mindset that’s not my job, it’s going to be how can we make this work.

“I am going to streamline some things creating more positions where they can be out there on the streets to serve better.”

Fraley knows how hard it is to recruit and maintain young officers and for that reason believes it will be crucial to develop a Human Resource team to take care of young officers who decide to become a part of the department.

“I will be looking at better retention,” added Fraley. “I have heard it for five administrations that they are not paid enough. When I started there, it was $12,000 a year and I worked there for over 30 years.

“I made a living at it. I didn’t do it to get rich and did not get rich but it’s not always about the money. It’s about serving your community and taking care of that employee and treating them like an employee and not treating them like a piece of property that has an expiration date.

“They are an asset and should be treated as so,” Fraley continued. “The first thing I want to do is put together a Human Resource team, not just one individual, but have someone that has a background in Human Resources to look out for the long term well-being of the employee.

“It’s a marathon and not a sprint. I want them to look for the best insurance plans and look for the best financial plans they can do. It will take someone that has a background in Human Resources to do that. I am looking at the long term.”

One of the things challenging anyone that sits in the office of sheriff is the war on drugs. Opioid overdoses have been on the rise due to the COVID pandemic and the fight against meth is an ongoing battle along with other drugs.

Fraley was asked about the issue of drugs in Carter County.

“I am not going to sit here and say I can win the war on drugs. Over 30 years, the drug problem has become rampant and I am not going to shy away from it,” said Fraley.

“It goes back to my original point that if I have more officers on the streets to be out there in the community listening and going after the dealers, I think that can only help with the problem.

“We do have a drug problem. I served on the Drug Court that was established a couple of years ago and I am proud that I was an original member of that. Does it have all the answers — no.

“I think that with a lot of different ideas in there you can help a lot of individuals get back on track and I am proud to have been a part of that.”

Fraley also believes it is important to use inmates to complete projects outside the four walls of the jail.

“I believe in inmate labor,” added Fraley. “I don’t believe you should have high-risk inmates out there but on the flip side of that you have people in there that have made mistakes and want to do their time and get out and there is no better way in my opinion instead of leaving them locked up 24 hours a day behind those bars is to have someone take them out as a crew.

“I did that in my career. We painted football stadiums for high schools and cleaning for schools when not in session.”

If elected, Fraley intends to make sure that training programs are implemented to make sure to keep up with the every-changing laws and the best way of staying safe on the job.

He felt it was also important to involve outside agencies along with constables in the training saying, “If it saves a life, then I am not going to play politics.”

In conclusion, Fraley stated that if elected that his door would always be opened to whoever may want to come and talk with him. He also hopes to have community meetings where members of the community can come in and sit down and talk about what is going on in Carter County.

“I am a man of my word — if I tell you that I am going to do something then I am going to do it,” Fraley said. “For example, if I sign a contract that I am going to have SRO’s at every school, then there are going to be SRO’s at every school.

“My dad taught me a long time ago and I have tried to live by it, he said treat everybody the same whether it’s the janitor or the CEO of the company. That was instilled in me. I want to talk to everyone that comes in and treat everybody the same when they come in to talk to me.”