CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Does the Hamilton County sheriff’s office need a Citizen Oversight Committee?
Some residents who spoke at the Commission meeting on Wednesday think so.
News 12’s Ashley Henderson asks Sheriff Jim Hammond.
Yesterday at the Hamilton County Commission meeting, a member of Chattanooga Moms for Social Justice, said her group’s members were appalled over a recent dash cam video showing possible excessive force, and a strip search.
The search and arrest of the man , conducted by two Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputies, is under investigation by several agencies including the TBI and FBI.
But Mari Smith also had a suggestion:
“We echo the calls in our community for a Citizen Oversight Committee to insure independent review of actions taken by those with the most power against those with the least.”
That decision would be up to the sheriff.
“As long as I’m Sheriff, I’m not going to support an oversight committee when we already have plenty of things in place. We’ve got the Civil Service Board, we’ve got the County Commission, we’ve got the District Attorney’s office, who can contact the TBI or the Department of Justice or the FBI, – we’ve got more committees than we know what to do with.”
Commissioner David Sharpe yesterday, told Ms. Smith that commissioners are waiting on more information from the Sheriff’s office.
“We’re going to cooperate with any one of our county commissioners or for that matter, I’ll be more than glad to sit down with a citizen group and talk to them. But what I’m not going to do is be railroaded into letting another level of bureaucracy dictate what’s best for the citizens of this county.”
The Sheriff says these investigations can take up to a year to finish. During that time, he says he can put these officers on desk duty, but not back out on patrol. Right now, they are on paid administrative leave.
We spoke with two county commissioners who felt they did not have enough information to comment on the idea of a citizen’s oversight committee at this time.
In Chattanooga, Ashley Henderson, News 12 Now.