Editor’s note: This Q&A is one in a series that aims to allow voters to get to know candidates who are running in the Aug. 2 primary. Nooga.com sent questionnaires to candidates on the ballotWe will post responses as we get them.

Republican incumbent Sheriff Jim Hammond has been in law enforcement for more than 50 years and he said he wants to continue building an outstanding department.

Democratic challenger Victor Miller is also on the ballot for the Aug. 2 primary.

Early voting runs through July 28.

What are your top priorities if elected sheriff?

  • Continue a strong vision for recruiting, vetting, training, and promotion of a new generation of officers and civilian staff to meet the diverse needs of our citizens and our calendar
  • Protecting and servicing all citizens in a fair and equitable manner
  • Continue to seek increased funding to meet the salary, capital, technological, and operational needs of the sheriff’s office
  • Continue to seek increased funding for the completion of a new Hamilton County Jail

What challenges does the area facing related to your office, and how do you plan to address them?

  • Lack of resources and qualified candidates for positions
  • Increased school resource officers for all public schools in Hamilton County

What, if any, changes do you want to see in the jail?

The current Hamilton County Jail is literally falling apart.

Each year we spend thousands and thousands of dollars trying to keep a subpar facility in operation. The condition and design of the current jail is no longer feasible and it needs to be torn down.

As sheriff, I want to continue to push for a new, state-of-the-art facility that will service the needs of our law enforcement community for many years

It is my hope to expand operations at Silverdale in order to reduce the amount of inmates downtown so that the current facility can be slated to be demolished and eventually returned to the tax roll for positive urban growth for Hamilton County.

This includes building new housing structures and upgrading existing structures at the Silverdale Jail complex.

What, if anything, can the sheriff’s office do to help address mental health needs of the community when many people who are in jail need that kind of treatment?

The HCSO has done many things to help protect the rights of the mentally ill in Hamilton County, including the following:

  • Instrumental in creating the first law enforcement Crisis Intervention Team in Hamilton County and then becoming the coordinating efforts to train personnel from all agencies how to respond and interact with persons suffering from mental illness
  • The HCSO is currently taking the lead in Hamilton County by working with the public and private sector to create Hamilton County’s first Frequent Users Systems Engagement designed to get people with addiction and mental health problems out of the County Jail and into treatment options that can help them return to a positive, meaningful life.
  • FUSE, once established, will be supported by local grants and public funding to provide housing and court assisted programs designed to give frequent jail users the assistance and support necessary to live by themselves and live positive and successful lives.

What do you want the public to know about your background or personal life if anything?

As sheriff, I have served over fifty years in law enforcement and hold a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice and a master’s in criminal justice.

I began my career in 1963 working in the Juvenile Court prior to joining the United States Navy in 1969.

Upon returning from service in the Navy, I returned to the Juvenile Court in 1971.

In 1978, I was appointed HCSO Chief Deputy and served till 1994.

In 1995, I served overseas as a training instructor for several National and International Law Enforcement Training facilities. I have served as Sheriff since 2008. I am a Christian and member of Woodland Park Baptist Church.

Why should residents vote for you and not one of your opponents?

Since being elected Sheriff in 2008, I have built a successful command leadership team through recruiting, vetting, and promoted educated, motivated and skilled individuals from diverse backgrounds in order to provide the best leadership and law enforcement services to the citizens of Hamilton County.

In order to ensure our operations and policies are sustainable and representative of the highest level of quality, under my leadership, the HCSO was able to become one of only five sheriff’s offices in Tennessee certified by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Of those five agencies, the HCSO is the second largest.

The purpose of CALEA’s accreditation programs is to improve the delivery of public safety services, transparency, primarily by maintaining a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence.

In the last 10 years, the HCSO has grown to include numerous specialty divisions capable of addressing a variety of threats and safety concerns including a forensic dive team, UAS (Drone) Division, and technological advances in the field of crime scene investigation and specialized training.

We also instituted one year ago a specialized unit within our Fugitive Division solely dedicated to locating and apprehending our community’s most dangerous and wanted felons.

This has also increased our ability to reduce the amount of dormant warrants.

What is your personal motivation for running for this office and wanting to lead?

My personal motivation for running for re-election is my commitment to continue my goal of building an exemplary department with well trained and respectful personnel dedicated to protecting the citizens of Hamilton County.

Our citizens deserve no less.

I want to ensure we safeguard the future of this agency so as to continue the long-standing tradition of service, transparency, and honor long attributed to the men and women of the HCSO since 1819.