published Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Hammond ready to move ahead; Harvey wants to help

Jim Hammond and Chris Harvey are seen in this composite photo.
Jim Hammond and Chris Harvey are seen in this composite photo.

Wheeling around in his chair to face the wall in his office, Jim Hammond pointed at a framed piece of paper stamped with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office logo.

A day after handily winning re-election as the county's top law enforcement officer over a patrol sergeant in his department, Hammond explained Wednesday that loyalty and unity in the sheriff's office are imperative.

"That's our mission statement," he said, index finger extended toward the wall. "It won't happen if I've got employees trying to undermine it. I've got to be able to surround myself with a staff that says, 'Sheriff, we agree this is the mission we ought to pursue and our personal likes and dislikes are not the important thing here.'"

Chris Harvey campaigned to unseat Hammond as sheriff, but the two are scheduled to meet soon. Harvey said he wants to continue serving Hamilton County as a sergeant and Hammond said what is most important is that those with differing opinions within the department simply show allegiance to the direction of the sheriff's office.

"I've got a mandate to be sheriff of this county," Hammond said, "and I want a team, who doesn't have to personally like me, but I want them to use the gifts and qualities I hired them for to make this department go where it will."

Hammond took 68.4 percent of the vote while Harvey earned 31.5 percent.

"It just didn't go my way this time," Harvey said. "I'll continue to serve the citizens of Hamilton County as a sergeant on patrol or wherever Sheriff Hammond sees fit to put me."

Between addressing staffing issues at the Hamilton County Jail, pushing for a bridge retirement program, dealing with an aging fleet of vehicles and tweaking the programs he's already implemented, Hammond said there are plenty of new issues he wants to address in the next four years.

And he again emphasized his desire to work closely with Fred Fletcher, whom Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke wants to hire as the city's next police chief. The Chattanooga City Council is expected to affirm Berke's choice Tuesday.

Harvey, an 18-year veteran of the sheriff's office, has not ruled out the possibility of giving a run for sheriff another shot in 2018.

For now, his role is simply to work for the citizens of the county, regardless of who the sheriff is, he said.

"I don't care who is sitting in that seat," he said. "I'm here to serve the citizens of the county. Micky Mouse could be sitting in there for all I care and I'd still be serving the citizens of the county."

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

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