In February, a Cleveland resident who volunteers some of his time to the Bradley County Sheriff's Department was involved in an altercation at an area restaurant in which it is alleged that he flashed some sort of law enforcement identification. Later, questions were asked at a county commission meeting intending to clarify what connection this person had with the Sheriff's Department and what, if any, liability the county had.
This paper tried unsuccessfully to find out exactly who was granted special deputy status under former Sheriff, Dan Gilley, when we received reports that law enforcement badges were being used as get-out-of-jail-free-cards by the politically well connected.
Spurred on by the recent ruckus, we this time asked Sheriff Tim Gobble for a list which was supplied almost immediately. According to this information the man in question was not given deputy status, did not have a badge and was not authorized to carry a firearm. He did volunteer his time to the sheriff without pay but did not have access to sensitive law enforcement information.
There are 36 civilian Reserve Deputies in good standing upon completion of required training by December 2008, (40 hours). There are 13 Special Deputies in good standing upon completion of required training by December, 2008, and also 9 volunteers without law enforcement powers. These are Bradley County Senior Visitation Program Volunteers and Jail Chaplains. The person prompting commission questions was not on any of the lists.
The People News inquiries revealed other interesting information about those non-professionals who are granted law enforcement powers. It appears that there is no law requiring that reserve, auxiliary, part-time or temporary deputy sheriffs be bonded. It seems that it is left to the discretion of the sheriff and the county legislative body (commission,) although, Tennessee Code Annotated,39-17-1315 refers to bonded and sworn deputy sheriffs being authorized to carry a handgun.
T.C.A. § 8-8-303c says that no person may serve as a special deputy unless that person proves to the appointing sheriff financial responsibility by evidence of a corporate surety bond or insurance policy of no less than $50,000. This provision is to protect third parties who may be injured by a special deputy. Although, the sheriff or the county are immune