|Amid complaints, Samburg awaits police chief’s return |
|Posted: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 9:00 pm |
|By KEVIN BOWDEN |
Samburg Police Chief James Hack is hoping to be back on the job later this month.
“I’ll say by the end of April, he’ll be back on the job,” Samburg Mayor Larry Gene Davis told The Messenger Monday afternoon.
Hack has been working part-time for the Samburg Police Department since November 2010, but a recent complaint by Al Hamilton has forced the city to temporarily suspend him until certain legal requirements can be met.
At the heart of the controversy over Hack’s work as the town’s police chief is a formal complaint filed by Hamilton to the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission in Nashville. It is that agency that is responsible for certifying law enforcement officers in Tennessee.
Hamilton has questioned commission director Brian Grisham about Hack’s qualifications as a part-time police officer.
In fact, Hamilton is also questioning the legality of the Samburg city court, Samburg city court judge and Samburg city court clerk.
“It is my understanding James Hack has never been trained by a certified instructor of the Tennessee P.O.S.T. Commission and the Town of Samburg does not have a full-time certified law enforcement officer on its payroll. He works unsupervised,” Hamilton wrote in one of several emails to the commission.
“James Hack is writing Tennessee Code traffic violations along State of Tennessee Highway 22 and acting as if he is a fully-trained peace officer for the State of Tennessee citing citizens of the State of Tennessee into the Samburg City Court for a Tennessee Code violation. The Samburg City Court is not authorized as a concurrent general sessions court in Obion County, Tennessee,” Hamilton wrote.
There is a total of 12 pages of email correspondences that have been provided to The Messenger by Hamilton. Throughout the emails, Hamilton directly questions the legality of Samburg’s police officer and city court system. He even goes so far as to allege Hack is impersonating a police officer.
“He (Hack) has never written a Town of Samburg ordinance violation of any kind — all of his written citations have been for a Tennessee Code violation with him remanding the individual (claimed violator) into the unauthorized Samburg City Court. I have reviewed about 50 written citations in the last six months to back up this statement,” commission chief investigator John Welch states in an email response to Hamilton.
“This maybe fraud and/or possible mail fraud on the part of the Town of Samburg government officials and James Hack impersonation of a certified peace officer of the State of Tennessee plus a direct violation of — Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-16-301 et. Seq. (2012) (1), (b) (1) & (2) — Criminal Impersonation by assuming a false identity of a certified police officer in Tennessee and pretending to be a certified law enforcement officer that is a certified law enforcement officer by the Tennessee P.O.S.T. Commission Rules and the Tennessee Code requirements,” Welch further stated in an email to Hamilton.
The result of Hamilton’s complaints is Samburg now relying on the Obion County Sheriff’s Department to provide law enforcement for the town.
“I’ve talked to officials at the POST commission and they’ve informed me about all the paperwork we need to have on file to stay in compliance,” Davis said. “They’ve cooperated with me really well.”
The mayor said he is scheduled to meet with the POST commission board next week to discuss Hack’s role as Samburg’s police chief.
County Mayor Benny McGuire told The Messenger he has been contacted over the Samburg controversy and he said he has turned the issue over to the county attorney, who has been asked to determine whether the county has any liability in the matter.
Staff reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 4.11.12