When Sheriff Mike Neal was elected in 2002, he saw the need for a full-time Family Violence Coordinator due to the ever increasing rate of Domestic Violence in nearly all communities. Investigator Rocky Potter was assigned to the position and remains on the job. The Family Violence Investigator is assigned the duty of investigating all crimes against children referred to our department as well as crimes against elderly citizens and most domestic violence cases.
Officer Potter also monitors all orders of protection issued by the court and is the liaison for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Sex offender Registry.
As domestic violence has been on the rise for several years, Rhea County Sheriff’s Department has been proactive in assisting victims, providing contacts for essential resources in an effort to break the domestic violence cycle. Our department also follows each case through the court system, maintaining regular contact with the victims by helping to answer questions and providing assistance for shelter, counselling, legal consultation and the prosecution of the perpetrators in each respective case.
As an extension of the assistance provided to the victims of family violence, Rhea County Sheriff’s Department is now a part of the Tennessee S.A.V.I.N. program. This program allows a victim to call a hotline number, provide their information to the agency, and receive calls to home or cell phones notifying them in the event the perpetrator is released from jail.
The Rhea County Family Violence Program also has accepted the responsibility of monitoring all sex offenders within its jurisdiction. Sex offenders are required to regularly check in at the sheriff’s department, and must always notify the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department of any changes in their circumstances such as their address, place of employment, new charges filed against them and anyone moving in and out of their home.
Sex Offenders must also provide updated information regarding all vehicles they drive. Regular home visits are conducted on sex offender to verify their circumstances.
Victims of elderly abuse and neglect are also assisted by the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department. If a report of possible elder abuse is referred to our department, an officer is assigned to make an initial report and forward it on to the Family Violence Investigator. If further investigation or action is deemed necessary, Adult Protective Services will be notified and a full investigation will be conducted. In certain cases, victims of elder abuse, may be removed from the residence, if it is deemed unsafe.
The Rhea County Sheriff’s Department works directly with the Department of Children’s Services, Adult Protective Services, Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic Violence and many other local social service agencies in an effort to provide the best care for each victim.