Deputy Chief Ron Parson has been named to oversee the Hamilton County Jail.Staff File Photo
A deputy chief who had a jailer complete college course work for him last year will now oversee the Hamilton County Jail and courthouse security, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.
“When Chief Hart left I was appointed interim chief of corrections, so this was a natural step in my career that I considered,” Deputy Chief Ron Parson, now supervisor of the uniform division, wrote in an internal email to colleagues. “This is an assignment that I take on with great anticipation and responsibility and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
The new title comes a week after the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported on internal affairs records showing that Parson had Corrections Deputy Ryan Epperson complete a paper for him when he was attending the Southeastern Command and Leadership Academy through the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga,
Parson never was disciplined, and Epperson still is employed at the jail, officials said.
But Sam Walker, a national expert on police accountability and professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said the move might not be a promotion.
“The corrections assignments are typically lower status and this could be seen as a somewhat punitive move,” Walker said.
Parson is paid $71,455 — one of the highest-paid positions in the department — and officials said his new title will not include a raise. Since he was hired in 2006, Parson has received $16,210 in raises. Most deputies have not received a pay increase since 2008.
Parson did not return a phone call for comment.
A long-serving supervisor at the jail was passed over for the corrections chief’s position.
Corrections Capt. John Swope, who has worked at the sheriff’s office since 1978, has been interim deputy chief at the jail since April, when former Deputy Chief Tim Gobble left for the city manager position in East Ridge.
Swope applied for the job and has more than 30 years’ experience working in corrections at the sheriff’s office.
He was given a 3 percent merit raise to $62,004 in September for increased responsibilities when Deputy Chief Richard Shockley left his position after being diagnosed with cancer.
It’s unclear who will take Parson’s position supervising patrol operations at the sheriff’s office. The position will be left unfilled until the sheriff reviews a budget and manpower issues, according to a statement.
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