2 face off in Loudon sheriff race

GOP candidates tout experience in law enforcement

Guider                                Cook

Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com
LOUDON - Both candidates for the Republican nomination in the race for Loudon County sheriff feel their years of law enforcement experience make them the right man for the position.

With no Democrats running, the winner of May's GOP primary will be the next sheriff.

Five-term Sheriff Tim Guider has 20 years of experience managing a department that has lowered crime, solved murders and balanced budgets. Challenger Steve Cook describes himself as a "hands on" lawman with a 30-year career as a patrol officer, investigator and task force leader.

"I know how to restore leadership," he said.

Cook most recently led the 9th Judicial District Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force and was named the 2008 Narcotics Officer of the Year by the Tennessee Narcotics Officers Association.

Guider points out how far the department has come under his leadership.

He said he remembers the time when Loudon County was mocked on national television for not being able to solve murders. He said that over the past 20 years he has replaced that negative image with a positive image.

"We've kept the crime rate at below national and state levels, especially on major crimes. We've solved every murder and some from the administration before us," he said.

Guider said his proven ability to run the sheriff's office and the jail on a tight budget has become even more important as the county faces economic challenges.

"Last year I submitted a budget that was $250,000 smaller than the year before," he said. "We did not request raises for any of our people."

Cook said he wants to make the officers and the employees more accountable. He said he believes in the importance of following policies and procedures.

"Everybody has to be held to the same strict moral standards," he said.

Cook also said he would like to see more interaction between police officers and the public. He said he would like to make more training available to all officers.

Cooperation with other law enforcement agencies in Loudon County is another area Cook would like to see improved. Loudon should not have to rely on Blount County for a SWAT team response, he said.

Guider said he has maintained good relations with the public and all the law enforcement agencies in the county.

"We've had a lot of success working with all the other agencies in the county and other organizations such as the Law Enforcement Academy," he said.

Loudon does not have the funding for a full-time SWAT team, but the department has a number of SWAT-trained personnel who can be called upon to respond to such emergencies, he said.