Sheriff responds to coverage of 'send them to the funeral home' comment
(WRCB) – In response to media coverage of statements made at the Brainerd Kiwanis Club last week, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond released the following statement:
As the sheriff of Hamilton County, I take my responsibility to impartially "protect and serve" all the citizens of our nine municipalities as well as the unincorporated areas very seriously. Also, I respect the good work and service of the NAACP and all the leaders of our multi-cultural community in their efforts to achieve equality and dignity for all our citizens. Indeed, we are a diverse community with great opportunities for all of us in the years to come. To achieve the proper empathy and relationship between us, we need each other. To feel secure, challenged and encouraged by these opportunities, we need each other.
Safety and security is the chief aim of all law enforcement with regard to providing a healthy and wholesome environment where each individual might prosper and excel. As sheriff, I am committed to protecting the lives of those who wear both the star and shield and to all the citizens under my jurisdiction. With a population of over 333,000 and more than 1,500 law enforcement officers in Hamilton County, this is no small task. In 2011, 164 law enforcement officers in the United States lost their lives in the line of duty, including one of our own here in Chattanooga, Sergeant Tim Chapin. A good number of those deaths were caused by young people.
Gangs have become a scourge to our own county as well, and while the bulk of the problem lies within the city of Chattanooga, it is becoming a regional problem as gang members try to spread into the areas surrounding the city. We must take a hard-line approach to this problem. One way to approach this is with the new gang task force, the Chattanooga Area Gang Enforcement (C.A.G.E.), which is comprised of personnel from local law enforcement and lead by Boyd Patterson from our D. A.'s office. He is the right man for the job.
I would like to clearly state that I am for a sensible and unbiased approach to assisting our youth to becoming productive citizens. An example of this is my new law enforcement approach to reaching at-risk, inner-city youth in the second to fourth grades, before they are recruited into the gang and delinquent culture. These types of programs require working not only with these young people but with their parents as well. Also, faith-based initiatives and some current ongoing programs can provide positive opportunities to help secure a bright future for our next generation of young people. I am calling on these groups' leadership and involvement – now.
Let there be no misunderstanding, however; I am committed to a no-nonsense, no lip service and no political rhetoric approach to peace and security for our officers and for all our citizens. To that end, law enforcement officers WILL stand in the gap between good and evil and protect the good citizens of Hamilton County. To that end, the good citizens of Hamilton County MUST take a strong stand against the gang problem - now.
Jim Hammond – Sheriff