Cooper: Keep Hammond as sheriff

Cooper: Keep Hammond as sheriff

July 11th, 2018 by Clint Cooper in Opinion Free Press

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond answers questions from the Hamilton County Commission.

Photo by Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.

We want our sheriffs to prevent crime and arrest the people who perpetrate crimes that occur.

But sheriffs, at least in Hamilton County, have a lot more on their plate. Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, for instance, maintains the Hamilton County Jail and the Silverdale Detention Center, is supervising the effort to move the former to the latter, must oversee the continual job of staffing the jail and patrol force, is looking to house mental health patients somewhere other than the jail, and is trying to fulfill the cry for student resource officers (SROs) in every county school.

We believe he is handling all of the above as well as can be expected, and we endorse him for a third term.

Hammond, 74, is opposed by Victor Miller, 34, the homicide unit supervisor for the Chattanooga Police Department, who by all rights has done well in his position. But the issues he cites are the same ones Hammond is already working on.

The challenger, for instance, says the jail is overcrowded and understaffed. But the sheriff has said that for years, and a plan is now in place to move the jail to Silverdale, which will be accomplished in phases and over time.

"Serious remodeling," according to Hammond, should begin at Silverdale by Sept. 1. The first phase, he said, will be a rebuilt kitchen, laundry room and women's unit. The second phase will be additional cells.

His wish, he said, is for the jail to be gone from downtown in five years and have the property back on the tax rolls.

Meanwhile, Hammond hopes to move mental health patients out of the jail and has applied for a $650,000 grant to help do so. Those patients don't need to be in jail, he said, and not having them there will keep the county from having to build a bigger jail facility.

Miller says he would focus on prevention, reentry programs and diversion programs rather than solely on incarceration.

During Hammond's current term as sheriff, the Silverdale facility was shifted to be under his aegis and out from under County Mayor Jim Coppinger.

Miller said he would work through the facility's current contract with for-profit manager Core Civic, then transition it to be more in direct control of the county, where it might be run "with less money, more control and better medical care."

Hammond says Core Civic "at this point is less expensive" than the county running it. There may come a day when it may be cheaper for the county to run it. Currently, he says, "we have a good working relationship."

The 2019 Hamilton County Schools budget includes funding for seven more SROs in its buildings, where currently 29 of 79 have such a presence.

Hammond says the sheriff's department must not only train and equip the new SROs but help retrofit the buildings to be more secure.

Miller, like the sheriff, wants SROs in every school and says more than seven could be on-boarded if more funding was available. Both candidates have said they are not opposed to continually trained administrators being armed.

The challenger, citing fewer homicides and shootings in Chattanooga under his watch, says he'd use more data and intelligence to reduce crime and prevent it. He believes he'd also be able to "better allocate the [sheriff's office] budget to the needs of the community," would foster a more transparent department and would have department information more readily available to the media.

Both candidates are worthy professionals, but we believe Hammond should be re-elected because he possesses a calm, pragmatic, workmanlike attitude toward the progress he's already made in the job and in the community.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com


Loading...