published Monday, February 24th, 2014

Jim Hammond: sheriff's office ready to forget about speeding cameras

  • photo
    Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond speaks to the media in this file photo.
    Staff File Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press

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The light detection and ranging — or LIDAR — cameras Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond wanted for his department are probably good as gone after public outcry has county commissioners saying they’ll backtrack on the cameras’ contract this week.

At Monday’s Hamilton County Pachyderm Club meeting, Hammond touched on the outpouring of public opinion which followed the narrow 5-4 approval for the cameras by commissioners last week.

“A lot of folks have distanced themselves from me in the last week,” he quipped.

Commissioner Larry Henry, who represents District 7, voted in favor of the cameras last week. He bemoaned that decision on Monday.

“I voted 'yes' last week,” he said, “but if the good Lord lets me live until Wednesday, I’m going to change my vote.”

Hammond took the renunciation of his proposal by officials and the public in stride, saying if the public hates the idea of LIDAR cameras, the sheriff’s department will oblige them and forget about the proposal.

“We will move on and find other ways to work with this county,” he said.

After Monday’s meeting, Hammond said last week’s vehement opposition to the LIDAR cameras caught him by surprise.

“I was surprised to see that people have such disdain for the cameras,” he said, “because I didn’t hear anyone talking about the danger of speeding.”

He also said the consequences of being caught and cited for speeding by the LIDAR cameras are lighter than being clocked by an officer and having the citation reflected on state driving records.

Compared to “the embarassment of being pulled over,” being cited probably costs at least $100 and means facing a court date, Hammond said a $50 civil penalty sent “right to your mailbox,” no record of the citation and no court date seemed like a better alternative for drivers.

“I think the biggest thing is [the public] felt like it was an intrusion of goverment,” he said.

Hammond doesn’t intend to fight uphill for the measure come this week’s County Commission meeting.

“I’m through with that one,” he said. “We’ll go back to what we were doing.”

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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