Sheriff Clashes With Mayor Over New Metro Jail

Posted at 10:15 PM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 23:33:42-04

Sheriff Daron Hall said the mayor has forced him out of the loop when it comes to planning for the new Metro jail.

Tens of millions in tax dollars have become the center of a disagreement between Nashville's mayor and the Davidson County sheriff.

The sheriff said it's a tiff over who really is in charge of building the city's badly needed new jail.

The current jail is a mess and beyond repair. Now you also wonder if the relationship between the city's two most powerful, elected leaders is beyond repair.

"I think there are plenty of decisions we don't know anything about," said Sheriff Daron Halls. He complained that Mayor Megan Berry has taken over the project keeping him out of the loop.

"I think what you get is a sheriff who believes he should have absolute control over the whole reconstruction," said mayor spokesperson Sean Braisted.

Braisted said Metro Codes specifies that general services -- and thus the mayor -- are responsible for construction of public buildings.

"Sheriff Hall chose to divorce himself personally, but his office has been involved," said Braisted. But Sheriff Hall said not nearly enough.

He felt he needed to spearhead the design and operation plans for the new facility since he's the one the public will hold accountable.

"I just think this is the most critical time for the sheriff's department in 20 years and we need to be at the table leading the charge," said Hall.

Hall thought it was absurd to leave him out of planning for the  jail. The mayor's office denied it. But -- as an example of the problem -- Hall pointed to a flow chart from the mayor's office after she took office.

It's listed him as a subordinate. He's elected, thus answers only to the voting public. Braisted concedes Hall does not answer to the Mayor.

"This was something that came from the transition team. Once we found out we took that off there," said Braisted.

That was an easy fix, but forming a united front on a critical city project? That was another matter.

Sheriff Hall said there's nothing personal in this disagreement with the mayor, but the dispute is over philosophical differences.

The mayor's office insisted Hall has not been cut out of the jail planning process. Demolition of the old jail was set to begin by July.