The approximately 80,000 Bedford County residents didn’t quite know what they were getting when they voted for Michael J. Brown as Sheriff in 1995.
Brown was born and raised in Big Island, a town that was neither ‘BIG’ nor an ‘Island’; his 1960 graduating class sent 27 graduates into the world to participate in solving all vast global problems. One graduate, Mike Brown, has shown his diligence and stamina by doing just that; solving vast problems. After high school, he attended Campbell University in North Carolina (formerly Campbell Academy, then Junior College and since 1961, University).
Receiving a two-year certificate, he returned to his hometown area to work in a paper mill, followed by a stint in the Bedford County Sheriff’s office, spent a few months as an investigator for the C&O Railroad, served as a Military Policeman (MP) in the U.S. Army, was a Metropolitan Policeman in Washington D.C. as he attended and graduated from American University with a degree in Police Administration and Justice.
He also retired as a senior special agent US Treasury Department (Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) followed by consulting with our Federal Government (DOJ) concerning affairs in Central America and Caribbean Islands for several years.
Brown then accepted the challenge of a local lady that urged him to campaign for the Bedford County Sheriff’s job. He started serving in this office starting in January 1996 and will leave on December 31st, 2019; the culmination of five re-elections for a total of 24 years of truly inspired service to his department and the County of Bedford, Virginia.
Was it political bias that kept Sheriff Brown in office for nearly a quarter century? Was it money spent on campaigns that induced voters to keep reelecting him? The answer is that neither of these suggestions applies; Bedford County residents got more than a law-enforcement sheriff; they got an individual with extensive experience, education and common-sense judgment that was skilled in more than basic law enforcement.
Voters soon learned that Sheriff Brown was someone who knew how to lead people by bringing staff and citizens into the field of play for both crime prevention and consequences. He realized that law enforcement and human relations go hand-in-hand by pleasing the vast majority of people who obey laws and statutes while doggedly holding accountable those who have abhorrent thoughts and actions. Brown quickly brought office staff and sworn officers into the aura of trust and truth and was able to sort through the skills and aptitudes of his people to make adjustments by suggestion that naturally created optimal results. Because all people were partners in strategies, actions and solutions, staff enjoyed the challenges of growth through perseverance and integrity; an unbeatable brew for success.
One of the monuments of success is the initiation of SOVA ICAC (Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children) U.S. Department of Justice Task Force now located in Forest, Virginia. This location launched in 1998 is one of 64 locations throughout the nation. The organization has a 100% rate of arrests and convictions of sexual predators.
Sheriff Brown has also created ‘The Safe Surfin’ Foundation that supplies thousands of outlets with printed materials regarding Internet safety educational materials aimed at youth from kindergarten through high school, their parents, religious groups and libraries. Brown has also marshaled donations from across the country that has supplied 636 Level IIIA vests to law enforcement officers nationwide.
Sheriff Brown retired in January 2020 and now has a choice of many endeavors to choose from. At age 76, he said he will keep busy with projects that will be fulfilling for those he has worked with over the years.
Mike’s wife Janet, who holds a PhD and is a professor at Liberty University, is also engaged in promoting Internet safety for young men and women worldwide through an organization called Cyber (S.W.A.T.). In April 2019, Mike and Janet were invited to The Vatican where the Sheriff and Dr. Brown addressed ‘The Global Security Network 2019 Conference’ attended by security leaders from around the world.
Sheriff Brown leaves a long shadow and deep footprints for his successor and the Bedford County Sheriff’s department staff of 107. This leader who won the 2017 Ferris E. Lucas Sheriff of the year from the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) will continue setting new records of achievement for many years to come.