Woodward becomes 5th candidate for sheriff

Friday, February 19, 2010

A former Lewisburg policeman has decided he's running for sheriff in Marshall County.

"I'm not pulling out," Steve "Woody" Woodward, 55, of Liberty Avenue said Thursday morning.

Woodward obtained a petition to run for sheriff on Monday at the Marshall County Election Commission Office. It's due back there on or before April 1. In the week thereafter, petitions may be withdrawn. Getting a petition does not necessarily make an individual a candidate. A completed petition leads to their name being placed on the ballot.

For many county residents, Wooward might be known as the policeman who received a Lortab pain pill from a man who was subsequently caught in a roundup by the local drug task force. Woodward said the pill was to relieve pain from injuries suffered in a car crash and subsequent spinal surgery.

"I could have overcome this, but it would have been after a knock-down, drag-out" meeting of the Police Advisory Board, said Woodward, explaining why he decided to retire.

"The people who've come to me in the past several months, and the people who've known me, tell me they think I got a raw deal and I think I got a raw deal," Woodward said.

"People have talked to me in the past about running, but this is the first time I've had the time to make a run for it," he said of the ironic turn of events. "I'm more ready to than any time in my life and that's what I'm going for."

Thursday morning, Woodward was fingerprinted at the sheriff's office. It's one of several documents required by the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission for candidates for sheriff.

Perspective on Woodward's candidacy and his service as sheriff, if he's elected, might be gained from an examination of what happened in Bedford County since Sheriff Randall Boyce was elected in 2006.

Boyce had been a certified law enforcement officer decades earlier. His certification expired and he was elected without the document from the POST Commission. Nor did he have updated training from the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy while serving in the first several years of office.

Without that, Boyce was not eligible to run for re-election and his salary was reduced one year after another until he graduated from the academy and became certified. Now, he's eligible to run for re-election.

"I've never been decertified," Woodward said. "When you leave, quit or retire your certification as a police officer is still good through the POST Commission."

Woodward was never charged in connection with his acceptance of pain medication from Roy Rowe who, before his arrest, was a candidate for Lewisburg City Council. The then-retiring policeman was interviewed by an agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The agent also interviewed Rowe who was interviewed by the Tribune while he was in jail. His story conflicted with Woodward's, but the retired officer points out that Rowe is a convicted felon. Woodward has never been charged with a crime, he said conceding that he did get two speeding tickets as a teenager while driving to school.

Now, he says, "I just want the opportunity to become sheriff and help make Marshall County the best it can be."

He said he feels he can do that best in law enforcement.

"It's what I've done for more than 30 years," he said.