Chattanooga clergy demanding DOJ investigation of HCSO

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – “There has not been any cooperation from the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.”

A Chattanooga clergy group says they’ve repeatedly been denied meetings with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office regarding use of excessive force.

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Now they’re asking the Department of Justice to open an investigation.

“This is just the final step that we feel needs to happen to stop this excessive use of force against citizens in Hamilton County,” says Reverend Dr. William Ladd, III.

In a formal letter released Monday, Dr. Ladd says Sheriff Hammond’s resistance to meeting with the clergy group shows that he has “chosen to ignore the cries of the community”.

“When the Sheriff’s office decided not to take part in the mediation that was offered by the department of justice community relations department, we felt that this was the necessary step.”

Sheriff Hammond wasn’t available for comment today but in a written statement, the Sheriff’s Office states, “As a CALEA accredited agency, we cannot arbitrarily change our policies when a group in our community disagrees with them.”

The statement goes on to suggest that the clergy group reach out to CALEA if they want these policies reviewed.

CALEA is a national organization known for giving accreditation to police departments that meet certain safety benchmarks.

But Pastor Ladd says that it just isn’t good enough.

“CALEA’s an independent agency that they send certification to, they don’t do any extensive auditing. So it appears that the CALEA certification is not working,” says Dr. Ladd.

Ladd says that a formal complaint with the DOJ will be filed by the end of the week.