published Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Jim Hammond taps Tom Edd Wilson to lead fundraising group

Tom Edd Wilson
Tom Edd Wilson
Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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    Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond speaks to Times Free Press editorial board members.
    Photo by Patrick Smith.
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A former Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO will head up the Sheriff's Foundation in hopes of raising $2 million to $3 million to supplement local law enforcement budgets.

"I feel like we have an opportunity here to put something together from scratch," said Tom Edd Wilson, executive director for the Sheriff's Foundation.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, who launched the foundation two years ago, said he will step out of the spotlight to allow Wilson to raise money.

"Now, it's time for me to take a little more back role [as] someone like Tom Edd becomes the figure and face out there," Hammond said.

Hammond said the foundation was formed because law enforcement budgets often don't have the money to spend on leadership training for officers or to equip officers with the latest technology.

"I think one of the safeguards would have to be that money appropriated would be above and beyond the normal areas funded," Hammond said. "This is not about hiring people or buying cars -- the normal stuff we have to have for law enforcement."

Hammond named a few key donors to the foundation board. Current board members are Emerson Russell, Greg Vital and Louie Card. About $170,000 has been raised to date, Hammond said, but none has been spent.

The sheriff said he has no plans to work for the foundation he created.

"No, you have my word. Jim Hammond will not be a candidate for a job in the foundation," Hammond said.

Wilson is not earning a salary now, but Hammond said he would "make a litle bit of money." The pay, however, would not support someone interested in holding the position as a full-time job, he said.

Wilson said it could take up to three years to raise the money needed to sustain foundation goals.

"It's much more difficult to raise money than it ever used to be," he said.

Wilson said he sees the foundation as a way of developing confidence in law enforcement throughout the community.

"I think Jim's got a grand idea," he said. "I decided I want to be a part of it."

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