BY DARREN CAMPBELL
Vince Lombardi once said, “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”
This week Chief Deputy Bert Connolly was able to reap the rewards of his hard work and dedication to the citizens of Iredell County when he was named the Jail Administrator of the Year at the North Carolina Jail Association Annual Fall Conference. This prestigious award recognizes excellence in Jail Administration throughout North Carolina.
Certainly, the members of the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Iredell County congratulate Chief Connolly for this recognition of a job well done.
Very few have had the opportunity to visit the Iredell County Detention Center (you can congratulate yourself for a job well done). However, even fewer of us have needed to see the complex inner workings that take place in our jail every day. In addition to being responsible for every aspect of the day-to-day operation of the Iredell County Detention Center, Chief Connolly has many other responsibilities. He prepares and presents our yearly budget, oversees the bailiff teams that provide security within the courts and conducts inmate transports while keeping and maintaining qualified staffing. These are just a few of the many responsibilities he coordinates and manages daily.
It is not a stretch to say that Chief Connolly is responsible for the safety and well-being of each inmate of the Iredell County Detention Center, as well as each officer working within the facility. The Detention Center, which can house over 500 inmates, must run like a well-oiled machine and maintain its operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Upon being processed into the facility, each inmate must receive medical clearance, be classified according to their pending charge, and be issued proper clothing, shoes, and toiletries. There are meals to be prepared, clothing and linens to be laundered, and a facility to keep clean. Additionally, Chief Connolly is responsible for maintaining the proper staffing required within the facility while ensuring that all detention officers are certified by the North Carolina Sheriffs Training Standards within one year of employment.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Connolly has become acutely aware of how the virus could quickly become a threat within the confined walls of the Detention Center. More than once, we could pass by to find Chief Connolly absorbed in the latest information concerning the pandemic and quickly implementing procedures to protect inmates and staff. Chief Connolly worked tirelessly with local health officials to implement testing and quarantining procedures for incoming inmates. He communicated with vendors across the country to secure the protective equipment needed to keep the detention officers and all Iredell County Sheriff’s Office employees healthy, so there would be no interruption of service to the citizens of Iredell County.
Before his employment at the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, Chief Connolly served as a correction officer for the N.C. Department of Corrections, and he knows firsthand the stresses each officer faces daily. He understands that officer safety inside a confinement facility is paramount. Chief Connolly’s knowledge was instrumental in designing and constructing the new jail facility to focus on officer safety and facility needs. He stays involved with the detention center officers and focuses on where improvements in equipment and policies are needed.
The achievements of Chief Connolly are vast and merely a few highlights of his service. It isn’t easy to touch on each aspect that he handles daily. However, we know that it would be a far reach to find anyone more deserving of this honor than Chief Connolly. His hard work, dedication, and perseverance are second to none. We are incredibly proud to say that not only is Chief Connolly the North Carolina Jail Administrator of the year, but he is also our Jail Administrator of the year this year and every year.
Darren Campbell is the Iredell County sheriff.