Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond is optimistic about the future of his relationship with the Chattanooga Police Department.
With Fred Fletcher awaiting near-certain approval from the City Council as Chattanooga's police chief, Hammond called it "a new day" in local law enforcement when he met publicly with Fletcher Tuesday at the police department headquarters.
"Now that you're on board, you and I can chart the path to making sure safety and security is where it needs to be," Hammond told Fletcher.
Hammond, who is running for re-election this year, opted not to unpack the specifics of his plans for working with Fletcher until the two could meet privately.
Fletcher is returning for an undetermined period of time to Austin, Texas, where he worked as a police commander, before he begins his job here.
He acknowledged the challenges of working in close proximity to several municipalities and their law enforcement agencies. However, his 20-year stint with the Austin Police Department has prepared him adequately for these situations, Fletcher said.
The 46-year-old cited a former Austin-area sheriff as a mentor and said he was impressed by the collaboration he saw between Chattanooga police and sheriff's office personnel during Saturday's neo-Nazi rally at the Hamilton County Courthouse.
"I look forward to working with all my peers in the area, including Sheriff Hammond," Fletcher said. "I very much look forward to doing all we can to work on the challenges and combine economic development and safety in Chattanooga and make this the best Chattanooga it can be."
Fletcher offered a "thank you" to Stan Maffett, who served as interim chief during Mayor Andy Berke's search for Bobby Dodd's replacement, and commended city officials and officers for their work with Berke's Violence Reduction Initiative.
"It's fantastic," Fletcher said of the initiative. "It's a big chunk of the reason that drew my attention here, is to be involved in a city-wide and a government-wide effort like that."
Contact staff writer David Cobb at 423-757-6731 or firstname.lastname@example.org.