Correction: (February 2, 1995): The filing system at COPS Northeast was in disarray in January, 1994, when Sherrie Bryant took over as desk coordinator. A story in last week’s North Voice incorrectly stated the system was in chaos last month, when Bryant became president of the neighborhood police substation.
A month ago, COPS Northeast was a mess.
The files were disheveled. Paperwork had disappeared between drawers and behind cabinets.
Volunteers who came in to work didn’t know what to do or where to start.
Then Sherrie Bryant took over.
Always armed with plan A and plan B, and sometimes even plan C, Bryant is an organizational wonder.
After raising eight children and running her own bookstore, Bryant says organization is second nature.
“I like to be prepared,” Bryant says of her compulsion.
So when it came time to take over as the newly elected president of COPS Northeast, Bryant came armed with her daily planner and an abundance of energy.
“Things were in a crisis,” said neighborhood resource officer Percy Watkins. “She designed and implemented a new filing system. She came up with a new desk system.
“If it wasn’t for all that, the substation wouldn’t be up and running at all.”
Thus, Bryant’s first month in charge of the Hillyard police substation was much like Maria’s introduction to the Von Trapp children in the “Sound of Music.”
She swept in with a cheery attitude, innovative ideas and a love of hard work and brought about change.
“There are some people who take on a hard task and you can see the strain on them,” Watkins said.
“But with Sherrie, she can do it with ease. And she has enough left over to show some personality and make it fun.”
Bryant, 46, figures she spends between 40 and 50 hours a week running the substation and supervising the 80 active volunteers.
Last year the volunteers took 429 complaints, answered 2,652 inquiries and logged more than 10,524 work hours.
“Wouldn’t you want to be
president of a place like that?” she asks, pointing to the facts and figures she has compiled.
Being in charge of volunteers is not always easy. But Bryant handles with it finesse, Watkins said.
“We have a rule: We ask - we don’t order - when we want something done,” she said. “And I delegate a lot.”
Although she is blunt and to the point, Bryant has tempered those personality traits with patience and the ability to listen.
“I’m not real good about beating around the bush,” she said. “But it’s important to listen. It’s a system that works when you get everybody’s input.”
In addition to getting the place organized, Bryant has a vision for the substation in the coming year.
She wants the community to be more aware of what the volunteers at the substation do. She wants to see an active block watch on 90 percent of the residential blocks in Hillyard.
The substation serves the area between Francis and Euclid, and Havana and Perry. Currently about half the residential blocks have active Blockwatch volunteers.
“We need people to get together and make connections, because that is what empowers the community,” she said.
To that end, the northeast substation is increasingly a hub of activity.
New fund-raiser Del Irish goes nonstop, Bryant said. And when the Department of Corrections opens its new office next week, there will be even more bustle about the place.
In spite of all the compliments from those around her, Bryant remains modest when she talks about her goals and achievements.
“A lot of what I have to do is maintain what was already here,” she said. “(Former President) Lynn Weiler set the foundation for us to build on. She set the stage.”
While Weiler is credited with getting an air conditioner and a furnace installed in the building, Bryant is hoping to add more programs that can serve the neighborhood.
“I don’t think people understand the importance of a good system,” Watkins said. “But if the system fails, then they understand it.
“Sherrie has put that system in place,” he said. “She’s the meat and potatoes out here.”