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Sheriff Hammond doles out arrest, firearms powers

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (Times Free Press) -- 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.

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.

Read more on the story from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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