CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Hamilton County Commissioners heard budget requests from various departments today–gathering information to be used in the final 2017-2018 budget.
The sheriff’s department is asking for an increase of some 6.7 million dollars, but the county leaders have not passed a tax increase in 12 years. According to Sheriff Jim Hammond, the request for an increase is in response to greater personnel and capital needs.
The Sheriff says that jails are the biggest concern that he’s facing.
“Well the Sheriff’s office is one of the more expensive divisions of county government.” said Sheriff Jim Hammond.
Sheriff Jim Hammond presented the new proposed budget for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department.
This budget had a 14.2 increase from previous budgets totaling up to an additional 4.7 million dollars. That amount goes towards acquiring new personnel and also an additional 2 million is needed for capital investment.
We sat down with the Sheriff to see why his department needs more help.
Sheriff Jim Hammond states “Citizens tell me they want to be safe in their homes, they want to be safe driving on the roads to and from work, they want to be safe when they are at play… they want their kids safe at school, they want to be safe when they are out shopping. That’s what law enforcement is about, the Sheriff’s office unlike municipal police we have the same duties when it comes to police work… what makes the Sheriff’s office different is I am also responsible for the prisoners.”
The Sheriff goes into other responsibilities that his department handles, including protecting judges and even the school system, since it falls under the county. He also says all of this costs money if residents want the job done right.
“In order to be as efficient and solve as many crimes as we can I need to promote people to detectives, I need to make sure we got the highest quality employees with decent pay and good advancement opportunities.” said Sheriff Jim Hammond.
This new proposed budget will open up 57 new positions in the Sheriff’s Department, ranging from Correctional Officers to School Resource Officers.
Sheriff Jim Hammond announces “I’m in need of patrol officers, I’m certainly in need of correctional officers, uh, right now I got 500 prisoners in this jail and other 400 out of Silverdale that I don’t have room for down here. We spent almost 2 million dollars in overtime l;ast year because we didn’t have enough jailers to be able to keep the prisoners… that will have to continue if I don’t get additional personnel.”
Sheriff Hammond was just one of the department heads who made a presentation today.
Mayor Jim Coppinger will present the final budget to the commission on June 7th.