On Monday, I reviewed the Knox County Sheriffs office personnel files for Sheriff candidates Bobby Waggoner and Sam Hammett. In addition, to Hammett’s personnel file there is an Internal Affairs file. Hammett resigned the department in May 2012.
On Monday afternoon, Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones was a guest on the Phil Williams radio talk show on FM 98.7. Catherine Howell was the host and Sheriff Jones stated that Hammett was gone from the department because of being found to be untruthful.
On May 30, 2012 Hammett submitted a 6 page letter requesting a hearing before the Knox County Sheriffs Department Merit System Council. The Merit Council is a body of four Knox County citizens that are appointed by the Knox County Commission. Three serve as members and one serves as an alternate, should one meme re be absent. This is a body that I once served. On June 27, 2012 at 10 a.m. the Merit Council heard Hammett’s case and found that the Sheriff had NOT either a) failed to comply with procedure established by the Merit System Council or b) the demotion occurred for political reasons or c) the Sheriff was arbitrary in the interpretation of cause.
Hammett first applied for employment with the Sheriffs Department on April 15, 2003. He was hired and began work on July 7, 2003.
On May 20, 2012 a memo was received about a March 2012 conversation that Ptl. Officer Hammett had with a Sgt. Hammett desired to be on a west zone. Hammett is reported to have told the Sgt. that he (Hammett) had been more than patient in regard to not having been assigned to the zone of his choice. Hammett reportedly said that if he were assigned to a zone he liked he would become a more productive officer.
On April 24, 2012, Hammett was involved in a motor vehicle accident involving his Knox County cruiser. In a memo to Chief Eddie Biggs on the same day, Hammett states that he “construed the device to display green” After an investigation, based on witness and video evidence it was discovered that Officer Hammett had a red light and was at fault in the accident. The recommendation by his Supervisor was that he receive 8 hours of driving instruction and suspended 1 day without pay. He was given 2 days suspended without pay. It appears from examining the accident report in the internal affairs file that there were 3 passengers and 1 driver in the vehicle that Officer Hammett struck.
The internal affairs file described an event on April 12, 2012 “that involved disposition of documents related to the seizure of a motor vehicle” The proper protocol is that officers “personally deliver documents such as seizure notifications to one of the Detachment supervisors.” The supervisor logs the document on an official log and turns the documents into records division. In this incident, Hammett did not follow protocol, he stated that he personally delivered the document to records. He did not receive or request a receipt, he could not recall the records employee he gave it to. He stated that he laid the document on the counter and no one took possession of them. Hammett was instructed to contact the presiding Judicial Commissioner to facilitate the reproduction of the seizure document. According to the file, Hammett did not contact the Judicial Commissioner and has not produced or replaced the document.
On May 4, 2012 there was a call from the Suntrust bank in Halls, where a lady and her children were fleeing from a man that had threatened to do harm to her. At 1441 hours 3 units were dispatched to the bank located at 7302 Maynardville Hwy. After the call was “disposed at 1454 hours” the Lt. approached Officer Hammett who was in the same location that he was observed being at at 1415 hours. The same location that was approximately 100 feet from the same Suntrust Bank that the 3 units responded to. Hammett informed the Lt., he had not heard the call to the bank on his portable radio or his mobile radio. Hammett also told the Lt. his in car video recording system had stopped functioning earlier the same day. The same day the Sgt. was instructed by the Capt. to order Hammett to report the “malfunction of his in-car video system” to the Fleet Manger no later than May 7, 2012. The Capt. contacted Fleet a Management on May 9, 2012 and was informed that Hammett had not contacted anyone at Fleet management? The Capt. then took measures to see that the cruiser was delivered to Fleet Management. On May 11, 2012, the Capt. was informed that a Fleet Management could not identify any cause for the in car video system not to function.
There were several aspects to the investigation of the call at the Suntrust in Halls. Officer Hammett was engaged in conversation with a citizen that he said he had never met and through at least one of the different investigations was determined not to be truthful.
There were three findings that were determined through the multiple investigations that Officer Hammett had not been truthful. The recommendation was that Hammett receive a reduction in rank and be reassigned to Correction Division.
The reduction in rank apparently occurred while Hammett was on vacation. Upon returning from vacation he discovered the notice taped to the front door of his home and apparently resigned shortly there after.
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