Sheriff Jim Ruth presented information about a state Department of Justice grant that would reimburse the county for half the cost of seven needed bulletproof vests.
Commissioner Jeff Yarber suggested the committee look at getting 14 vests with the grant since the county would be paying the same amount as for seven without the grant.
Ruth also mentioned the warranty on about 50 vests is going to expire in December. Yarber asked if there is a way to get an extended warranty on the vests that are still in good condition. Committee member Ed Elkins said the county had planned to participate in a program similar to the state grant in the past, but the grant expired before all the paperwork was completed for receiving reimbursement. Elkins said there needs to be something put in place so all the vests are not being replaced at the same time.
A motion was passed to take the plan to use the grant to purchase seven vests to the finance committee and research whether the grant is an ongoing opportunity. Committee member Adam Lowe said using the grant could be a way to start replacing vests a few at a time.
The committee also discussed the policy on retiring officers keeping their service weapons. The suggested policy allows for an honorably retiring office who has served for 20 years, an honorably retiring officer who has been physically disabled in the line of duty or a sheriff who has served a full term to keep their standard-issue service weapon. An addition to the policy proposed by Lowe and Yarber was made to allow for the sheriff’s discretion in allowing other officers to keep their service weapons. The proposed policy also allows for the family of an officer who has been killed in the line of duty to keep his service weapon. This issue will be placed on the agenda for the Monday meeting of the Bradley County Commission.
During the meeting, Ruth also said federal funding for meth lab cleanups was cut with only two days’ notice.
The committee passed a motion to ask the Bradley County Commission to send a letter to U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann asking that the funding be reinstated.
Committee chairman Brian Smith said many local governments in Tennessee have been taking this approach.
Ruth said that the department “averages two to three meth lab busts a month.” The removal and disposal of chemicals in an affected area costs an average of $3,000, according to Ruth.