An ex-police officer fired for acting inappropriately with a couple of teenage boys is among 37 civilian special deputies who are given full arrest powers and authority to carry a firearm by Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
None of the civilian special deputies has to undergo law enforcement training, but they have the same authority as an officer in full uniform, wearing a badge and gun. They are required to qualify with a firearm once a year, even though they are not issued guns by the department.
The remainder — and vast majority — of the 128 people who hold special deputy commissions are officers in municipal police departments who need countywide arrest powers to pursue suspects beyond their jurisdictions.
But it’s the civilian cardholders who open up the sheriff’s department for potential abuse with their lack of training and screening, according to a police ethics expert.
The word “posse” may conjure up visions of a Stetson-hatted lawman standing on a dusty Western street, six-gun at his side, asking a group of local citizens to help track down a fleeing bad guy, but under Tennessee law, posses still are possible.
Further from the Chattanooga TFP:
Under an 1858 law still on the books, posses can be created to suppress “affrays, riots, routs, unlawful assemblies, insurrections or other breaches of peace.” (Hamilton County Sheriff Jim) Hammond has done just that, issuing 71 posse identification cards to Hamilton County residents.
His 62-year-old wife, Jeanie, is first on the list. She’s also the only woman.
Also on the list are 30 contributors to Hammond’s campaign fund, averaging more than $1,000 in donations, according to campaign finance disclosures.
…Sam Walker, a police accountability expert who teaches at the University of Nebraska, said he’s never heard of a sheriff’s office still using a posse.
“There have been issues around the country where people have been given honorary deputy badges,” he said.
Walker argued that, if the posse is not actually going to be used for any practical purpose, it shouldn’t be there at all.
“If they’re not going to be used for anything, then why do they exist?” Walker said.
Georgiana Vines takes a look at the money aspect of the developing race to succeed state Sen. Jamie Woodson, R-Knoxville, who has announced plans to resign at the end of the current session. There’s a rundown on prospective candidates, too.
City Councilwoman Marilyin Roddy, who announced she’s dropping a run for Knoxville mayor to seek the Senate seat instead, “appears to be narrowing the field of other candidates in one respect – fundraising.” She had been lead fundraiser in the mayor’s race.
A fundraiser planned for May 1 in her mayoral race will continue as a Senate fundraiser, she said Thursday in an interview. It will be held at the home of Dr. Linett Wilkerson in The Holston building downtown on Gay Street.
Chris Connolly, her campaign manager in the mayor’s race, will run her Senate campaign, she said. Ward Baker, a Nashville political consultant who has directed strategies for U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackwell and Diane Black, will be a consultant.
Knox County Commissioner Dave Wright, who represents the 8th District, said he feels “good” that people have mentioned him as a prospective Senate candidate but he considers it a “passing-fancy sort of thing. I would never have countywide support in dollars that Marilyn has.
….Commission Chairman Mike Hammond, who is at an-large commissioner, has said he’s exploring the race. So is former state Rep. Jim Boyer.
A potential candidate who could raise money is Becky Duncan Massey, sister of U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Knoxville, and executive director of the Sertoma Center.
…(Former state Senate Republican Leader Ben) Atchley or his wife, Sue, are being mentioned as a potential appointment on an interim basis.
“That might be a possibility,” Ben Atchley said.
“I don’t know. That kind of blows my mind,” Sue Atchley said.
While county commissioners haven’t discussed it, they are likely to appoint someone who would be a “caretaker,” Hammond said.