How does his Christian faith and church involvement affect the giant-sized job of Greenville County Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown?
The question is quickly reversed: How does it not affect it? Brown is quick to acknowledge the influence of religion as he works to assure high moral standards for Greenville County. Brown also credits North Greenville for its positive influence during his early college days.
“I am committed to a totally open administration. When I took office on January 4, , I opened the door to my office and it hasn’t been closed since,” Brown said. “The county’s taxpayers are entitled to know what’s going on and I intend to carry out my campaign promise of listening to the people.”
A student at North Greenville from 1955-57, Sheriff Brown now administers a $2.2 million annual budget and oversees a staff of about 220, including about 90 uniformed patrolmen who cover the 789-square-mile county. “We drive three million miles a year and wear out a car about every three months,” Brown explained.
The new sheriff, 40, says his election last year was no shock. “I expected to win. I promised no magic, but just asked for an opportunity to prove myself,” he said, “and the citizens of this county have not been quick to criticize, but rather have given me time to show them the effects of the total reorganization of the Sheriff’s Department which I advocated.” Brown says that the reorganization will assure more accountability, better supervision, and maximum benefit from every tax dollar.
Recently a man came to the sheriff’s office and informed the receptionist that he did not have an appointment, but that he would like to see the sheriff. She showed him to Sheriff Brown’s office. The sheriff greeted him and the man responded, “You claim to have an open administration. I just wanted to see if I could get to you. Good day.” The man turned and left, obviously satisfied.
Brown says that while it is placed upon him every day, he refuses to bow to political pressure. “My dad taught me that if you’re right and you know it, you have nothing to worry about.”
Brown emphasizes his philosophy that it must be “us and we, not I, if we are to get the job done.”
The new law enforcement chief believes that the citizens must become involved in correcting situations that exist in the criminal justice system.
“We have been enforcing the laws of the people and consequently we have neither massage parlors, escort services, nor adult bookstores in Greenville County. This is largely to the credit of our solicitor, who cares what happens in our county,” Brown said.
Among the “firsts” which were a part of the reorganization was the establishing of a chaplains program in the department. “It’s one of the best things I’ve done,” Brown declared. The chaplain counsels with officers and their families, calls on them in times of special need, such as death or illness, and conducts devotionals at the platoon meetings.
While noting the many problems with which he and his department must contend, Brown is especially concerned about the fact that there now are more teenage alcoholics in Greenville County than ever before in history.
A native Greenvillian, Brown has for several years been engaged in various facets of law enforcement. He is married to the former Faye Brashier, also of Greenville. They have two daughters, Alison and Libby. Brown’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joe A. Brown, are retired and live in Greenville.
The sheriff is quick to praise North Greenville as “a tremendous school with a sound, basic two-year program that makes the last two years a lot easier.”
Brown is an active member of Berea First Baptist Church, where he sings in the choir. “The Lord never said that we had to carry a tune. He just told us to make a joyful noise, and I make the biggest noise of anybody,” Brown said.
Article published in the Fall 1977 North Greenville College Alumni Newsletter.