Roy Exum: Fred, Jim Need To Talk

Saturday, April 26, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I was at an informal gathering the other night when the news swept through the room that the city of Chattanooga had hired a new police chief. I asked Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, who was standing nearby, if he knew anything about Fred Fletcher, a promising guy from Austin, Tex. The veteran sheriff shook his head but answered, “I would really like to meet him.”

You can bet your last dollar Jim Hammond will approach Fletcher as fast as he can because the top lawman in the county has all but publicly mourned over the fact the sheriff’s office has gotten woefully little cooperation from the Chattanooga Police Department in the years Hammond has turned the sheriff’s department into one of the best in the country.

I happen to believe the incoming Fletcher will inherit a tremendous police department when he assumes office in the coming weeks. City Mayor Andy Berke just boosted the number of officers that will serve the city but already Chattanooga is regarded as one of the best police units in the state. Bobby Dodd, who recently retired, did a wonderful job.

So here’s the sheriff’s rub – the two departments could get a lot more accomplished if they worked together on a list of promising ventures. For instance, Hammond has put together a “Sheriff’s Foundation” that includes the police chiefs from nine communities within Hamilton County. Businessmen in Chattanooga help fund the foundation that, in turn, provides training and other professional opportunities that police departments on Signal Mountain and East Ridge may not get otherwise.

It is a tremendous program but the Chattanooga Police Department has, for whatever reason, never taken part. Hammond is hopeful that Fletcher – described as smart and energetic – will be amenable in working to build better relations between the two departments. “I’ll happily carry the olive branch or do whatever we need to do. It just makes too much sense.”

As Hammond spoke, I watched from across the room to where County Mayor Jim Coppinger and former city mayor Ron Littlefield were having a warm conversation. Anytime two public servants get together, I suspect there is a wealth of information to be shared and Littlefield, who is now doing consulting and speaking to various cities, was a two-term mayor who claims he is still learning about the art of governing people.

“I enjoyed working with Hamilton County,” he said easily while the well-respected Coppinger, who has just finished his first full term, is eager to soak up everything he can. “Communication is vital. I enjoy meeting with Andy (Mayor Berke) and was delighted to be at his ‘State of the City’ meeting this week.” Coppinger said.

Are you kidding me? What appeals to me most about a city-county relationship in law enforcement is that it “strengthen the net.” I realize that the county is an extension of state government while the city operates on a charter but it seems to me if the two cooperated in various ways the people – who all live in the county incidentally – could greatly benefit from such a friendship.

I’m on record with my belief Chattanooga-Hamilton County would greatly benefit from a “home rule” type of governance that Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville have proven is a better method of serving people. There is a huge repetition of services with two separate governments within the same county and – when we can get past our fears – Chattanooga-Hamilton County will save millions of taxpayer dollars.

Combining services, I believe, would make just as much sense as when we combined the city and county school systems. If we could, in turn, plow a lot of the money we would save into our schools the winner would soon be noticeable.

But right now I’ll be content if our police chief and our sheriff can work together as two friends who have a mutual respect for one another. I’ll guarantee the incoming Chief Fletcher his Chattanooga Police Department will be better because of this one thing -- Jim Hammond believes his Sheriff’s Department would greatly benefit from such an association.

royexum@aol.com



Vehicle Emissions Testing Causes More Pollution Than It Prevents

While a noble cause to make sure vehicles are operating efficiently with the minimum amount of pollutants, a simple analysis makes it somewhat evident the VET program in Chattanooga causes more pollution that it prevents.  Though I don't know how many vehicles are tested on an annual basis, if you assume an average round trip of 10 miles to the nearest testing station (five ... (click for more)

Is Poverty Inherited?

Is poverty inherited was meant and is meant as query to all of us.  The school system is a mess. Yes, a mess. Teachers in most of the schools in both the inner city and the fringes deal with behavior problems of some magnitude. The obvious solutionm rid the troublesome student and all will be well. That argument accomplishes little. Lil Joey in the back of the classroom ... (click for more)

Valerie Bray Pleads Guilty In Death Of Well-Known Runner Cameron Bean

A long-time Moccasin Bend Hospital employee pleaded guilty on Tuesday morning in connection with the death of well-known runner Cameron Bean. Ms. Bray pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident with a fatality involved. Defense attorney Bill Speek said she faces one-two years on each charge at a sentencing hearing on Feb. 1 at 1:30 ... (click for more)

Officer Who Was Shot Returned Fire; Is Recovering Well; Shooter Still On Loose

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said Monday morning that the officer who was shot three times on Thursday is recovering well.   Chief Fletcher said the officer was wearing a bullet-proof vest and one bullet hit the vest, which protected him during the shooting.  The officer was able to return fire, although Chief Fletcher would not comment on how many bullets ... (click for more)

Vols' Barnett On All-SEC Coaches' First Team Defense

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett, who tied legendary former Vol Reggie White for the school’s all-time sack record (32), has been named to the 2016 All-Southeastern Conference Coaches’ Football Team. Vols quarterback Joshua Dobbs was selected to the second-team offense and return specialist Evan Berry was picked as the second team return specialist. ... (click for more)

UTC Hoops: UTC vs. Marshall and Toys for Tots Tonight

Tonight is important as the UTC men’s basketball team hosts old rival Marshall at 7 p.m at McKenzie Come ready to watch exciting, fast-paced hoops … a track meet in tennis shoes. The Mocs are 6-2, while the high-scoring Thundering Herd is 5-2. Marshall averages 83 points a game and relies heavily on the 3-point shot (66 of 188), while the Mocs will look to minimize ... (click for more)