As of Friday afternoon, two applicants with experience in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department had filed letters with the County Commission seeking to be former Sheriff Billy Long’s successor.
“The department is hurting,” said sheriff’s department Lt. Lenda Clark, one of the contenders for the interim position. “Our employees are hurting, and they need some guidance.”
Lt. Clark, a 27-year department veteran who now serves as administrative lieutenant over communications and criminal records, said she filed her letter of intent Friday.
Dave Alverson, a former chief deputy in the department, said he applied for the job Thursday morning.
Mr. Alverson, who ran unsuccessfully as an independent in the 2006 sheriff election, said the interim sheriff needs to regain the trust of the people and boost the morale of department employees.
“Those are the two problems that must be faced right away,” he said.
Former Sheriff John Cupp also has said he plans to seek the interim job.
The interim sheriff will serve until a new sheriff can be elected Aug. 7.
The office came open after the Wednesday resignation of former Sheriff Long, who faces federal extortion, money laundering, gun and drug charges.
The commission will be accepting applications for interim sheriff until Feb. 18. On March 5, commissioners plan to select the interim sheriff, who would not be allowed to run in August.
Several commissioners have said their ideal applicant for interim sheriff would be a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent or U.S. marshal.
“I know several, myself, who would be qualified,” Commissioner Larry Henry said. “That’s exactly what I think we ought to do.”
At Thursday’s commission meeting, Commissioner Richard Casavant suggested the commission should try to reach out to potential applicants.
“One way to do it is to ask for referrals from people who are involved in the Justice Department,” he said Friday.
Dr. Casavant said the commission may want to choose someone outside local law enforcement.
“The perception, at least, is a lack of trust,” he said.
Meanwhile, several current and former law enforcement officials said they were considering running for sheriff in the August election.
Former Chief Deputy Jim Hammond, now chief of training for ERMC, a mall security firm, said he “probably definitely” will seek the Republican nomination.
“My credentials will certainly be up there,” he said.
Mr. Hammond, who said he was with the sheriff’s department for about 17 years, said his anti-terrorism experience would help him as sheriff.
“I think I’ve got the cutting edge on the newest technology,” he said.
Chattanooga police Lt. Tim Carroll, head of the police department’s major crimes unit, said he was thinking about a run.
“It’s a huge decision,” he said.
Lt. Carroll said he did not know whether he would run as a Democrat or a Republican.
County Commissioner Greg Beck, a Democrat, said he is considering a run as well.
State Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, has said he is weighing a bid. According to state law, he would have to resign his General Assembly seat to accept a nomination.
“No member of the General Assembly shall be nominated or commissioned ... to act as sheriff,” the law states.
Current Chief Deputy Allen Branum has said he has not decided whether to run in August or seek the interim post.
The Democratic and GOP nominees will be selected at caucuses before the election.
The Hamilton County Commission will stop accepting applications for the interim sheriff position Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. Commissioners tentatively are scheduled to begin interviews for the position Feb. 21. They plan to select the interim sheriff March 5. In May the county parties will meet in caucus meetings to select their nominees for the August election. On Aug. 7, voters will select a new sheriff.