Questions remain over formation of Hamilton County Citizen’s Oversight Committee


HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — The question of whether the Hamilton county sheriff’s office will someday have a citizens oversight committee is still being debated. The demand for the committee follows the dash cam video of a man being searched by deputies last week.

The man arrested on the night of July 10th is 41 year old James Mitchell. During the search he was found to be in possession of illegal substances. But the question remains…was it found using excessive force? Mitchell’s Attorney, Robin Flores, likes the idea of an oversight committee for county officers.

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“As a member of the community here, I can tell you, you can never have enough oversight. Police are not an occupying army. And when you start taking the eyes away of the public, off the police, they become an occupying army,” Flores said.

Community meetings are being held this week to debate the arrest…with some people demanding the resignation for Sheriff Jim Hammond, who is against an oversight committee.

“I don’t know that they have the power to do that, I think that might be recommended, I could be wrong, you know I’m an elected official just like they are, I get my votes the same way they do, that’s a legal question for county attorney,” Sheriff Hammond said.

“I would think that the government would want to tell the public, look, come and look at what we’re doing, you know we’re the good guys, we’re doing everything right, what do we have to hide? So have the oversight committee. Pack it with, you know, regular Janes and Joes, from the community to look at it, if they don’t have any authority, fine. But they’re eyes, and they can see what’s going on, if you allow them to,” Flores said.

But Sheriff Hammond thinks there’s plenty of oversight already.

“I’ll be more than glad to sit down with a citizen’s 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 citizen’s of this county,” Sheriff Hammond said.

Although allegations have been made that Mitchell was the victim of a roadside cavity search, the sheriff says that never happened.

Attorney Flores says he intends to file a civil case against the county.