NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Over the years, the role of the Sheriff's Department has
expanded. It saves millions of dollars and allows police officers to focus on addressing
crime. While the transition has often been seamless the new powers of the
department, at least on paper, have not been clearly defined.
"The charter language is somewhat ambiguous," Saul Solomon,
Director of Metro's Law Department explained. "We believe the charter
provides the authority the sheriff needs currently, but reasonable people could
differ on that subject."
A lawsuit being considered by the Tennessee Supreme Court calls that
authority into question; namely if deputies have the power to implement the
controversial 287 G program that verifies someone's immigration status
"We rather have the people decide what the sheriff should do than
rather have the court of law decide what it should do. So that's what spurred
it all," Solomon said.
Solomon contends proposing a change to the city's 50-year-old charter is not
in direct response to the lawsuit, but it at least brings to light different
ways in which the law could be interpreted.
"When the charter was written 50 years ago, I don't think they thought
DNA would be available," Sheriff Daron Hall added.
Changes will first be up for consideration by the City Council.
"There's over 122 (functions), booking, courthouse security, DNA
swabbing, orders of protection," Solomon said. "The sheriff does all
these things formerly done by the police staff."
Then it could be left to voters to decide in November.
"It's not about changing the way we do it," Hall added. "It's
about securing the way we do it right now."