Hamilton County sheriff responds to nearly 40 Chattanooga clergy demanding he resign over 'system of racism and bias' in office

Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Sheriff Jim Hammond answers a question about student resource officers in schools during a Town Hall meeting held Monday, April 16, 2018 at East Hamilton Middle High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. Hammond and the Tennessee Professional Educators Association joined together to host the event.

Days after a group of Chattanooga clergy called on Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond to resign, the sheriff said the 38 pastors who signed the letter do not come close to representing the people of Hamilton County.

During a Sunday afternoon news conference, Hammond said he would not resign and that his office is not racist, nor does it target Black people.

The sheriff's comments came in response to the four-page letter released this weekend by local clergy demanding Hammond's resignation.

"We do not expect you to heal our nation's wounds, but you are accountable for your words and decisions as the leader of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office," the letter reads. "And your recent actions have caused us to lose faith and confidence in your capacity to effectively and justly serve as Hamilton County's highest law enforcement officer."