Holmes and Washington County sheriffs reflect on first year

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HOLMES COUNTY/WASHINGTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -- In Florida, Holmes County Sheriff John Tate and Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews are both coming up on a year in office.

Tate recognized his county's drug problem and approached it from a different angle.

"Over the past year, we've sent over 24 people to faith-based rehabs and out of those 24 people we've only had three that's returned back to jail," Tate said.

Crews brought the DARE program back to Washington County after nearly a decade, teaching the county's youngest about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

"The simple truth is we can't arrest our way out of this program," Crews said. "It's a national problem in our country, so I felt like the earlier we can start, the better."

Both work closely with their elderly. Through the S.A.L.T. program in Holmes County, registered seniors get a call each morning. Public Service Officers in Washington County check up on the elderly.

Tate started a program called Project Lifesaver, a tracking bracelet for people with Alzheimer's or autism.

A new database will let Washington County deputies know when they're responding to the home of someone with disabilities.

Getting out in the community is the approach both sheriffs are taking to decrease the amount of crime and drugs on the streets.

Both counties used No Shave November donations to give back to the community at Christmastime. Holmes County deputies delivered gift cards, while Washington County delivered hams.

"Hopefully the recidivism of coming back to jail will decrease," Tate said. "That's what we look forward to and being able to establish the relationship back with their kids and families."

"Don't measure me on the amount of arrests that we make," Crews said. "I should be measured by the absence of crime in our county. Our goal is to make our county the safest place for people to live, work and play as we possibly can."

Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith and Liberty County Sheriff Eddie Joe White will also celebrate their first anniversaries as sheriff in January.