SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — He is caring, a leader, and a fighter. This week’s community hero works to influence every single student he comes across, to be the best they can be, even beyond high school.
Meet Sullivan County School Resource Officer Sgt. Jeret Ratliff.
“He’s just loved by the community and if you’re able to gain the love and trust of the community, then I’d say you’re doing a pretty good job,” Sullivan County High School junior Fletcher Gibson explained. “There’s a lot of examples in the police force that I don’t look up to, but it’s the exact opposite for Ratliff.”
Sgt. Ratliff has been committed to protecting and serving the community he grew up in for the last 15 years and has patrolled Sullivan County Schools for the last nine.
“I was working patrol, and I’ll be honest with you, I got tired of arresting the same ones over and over again,” Ratliff said. “And thought if I could get to the schools and get to the kids before they form their opinion of police completely, I could change what they think of police, and plus maybe get them into college or technical school. Get them on the right track. Break the cycle.”
The Sullivan County native works to fight the stigma of police officers every day for students, and pushes them to always put their best foot forward.
“Sgt. Ratliff has just been a really good influence on kids, teachers and other SROs here, and I admire how he has been able to influence the atmosphere here because he changes it for the better, every day,” Gibson said.
Brad Lawson, Sullivan South High School’s SRO said, “A lot of the kids, especially some of the athletes have grown up knowing him as a coach, almost part of their lives. Half of them here are high school students, so they know him as a coach, and as a police officer, as well, so they all look up to him.”
His goal is to make the Sullivan County Schools the safest school system in the state of Tennessee.
Ratliff is also known for saving a student’s life, after performing CPR a few years back.
“A life is priceless and being able to save that is a priceless moment, and I think he’s a hero with the way that he interacts with everybody,” Gibson said.
Ratliff said, “The most rewarding part about my job is to see these walk across the stage and graduate. Then, seeing them 10 years down the road and see they went to college or went to technical school and made something out of their self or got a good job.”
His undying passion for the demanding job and students of Sullivan County are what remind students they are safe with him.
“I had a domestic violence at home, I’m scared to be there, or I’m being abused, or they just need someone to talk to,” Ratliff said. “That’s when you realize, this is where I’m supposed to be at, when you give them advice and help them out.”
Congratulations Sgt. Jeret Ratliff, this week’s community hero!