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Law Enforcement Committee Meeting Minutes – May 3, 2023 (Approved)

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3 MAY 2023


The Chair Commissioner David Wamble opened the meeting asking Commissioner Roger Reedy to offer a prayer and lead the pledge of allegiance.  The minutes of 18 October 2022 were moved for approval by Commissioner Tim Risner, seconded by Commissioner Dr. James Lathrop, and were approved unanimously.


First Item Discussed – Budgets.  Handouts were provided on all related budgetary line items, showing audited actual for 21-22, current year budget 22-23, and projected budget years 23-24.  For drug control budget line item also showed both estimated budget for 22-23 and amended budget for 22-23, and showed a statement of expenditures and encumbrances as of April 2023.  Several items increasing in the projected budget were discussed in more detail, e.g. those items increasing outside of control of the county and not based on inmate usage growth were gasoline, cost of food, motor vehicles, electricity costs.  Disposal fees increased due to new requirement that material must be shredded on site.  And the last increase is to maintain competitive salary for IT support, that being on a parttime basis.  Financial Manager (FM) Beth Moore-Sumners wanted it reflected in the meeting that during the last budgetary process that three jail positions were not included based on direction of the commission.  While those positions are still required and approved for this department, the difficulty in filling the positions remains a challenge, and in the budget “the less than fully staffed organization” is shown.   Re Medical and Dental Services line item, the Chair asked about the budgeted amount, which is a significant part of the overall budget.  The FM stated she has to budget on this line for the unknown since it has several factors on which it is dependent, i.e., different health problems per individual inmates, sudden occurrences of medical problems, but she also mentioned the current company is great that supports the county.  Questions from several on what is covered by county funds, e.g., dentures, special diets if can’t eat, and do any have private insurance.  Chief Deputy Brandon Beard answered that only basic is covered (no dentures), and if prescribed, e.g., for cardio or religious beliefs, then diets are adjusted.  Only the bare minimum is provided per the Deputy.  He further said that once arrested, all is on the county for insurance and that most have none anyway.  Commissioner Judy Pruett said then the state Medicaid program hands it off to the county, and the answer by the Deputy yes, except if a state inmate housed in Giles County, then the state does.  A motion by Commissioner Tim Risner, seconded by Commissioner Brad Butler, to send the proposed budget to the budget committee with recommendation to approve.  Motion approved unanimously.  Commissioner Mathew Hopkins, in noting some information on various phone services, asked where that line item would be in the budget.  The FM said the phone costs for all departments show as a consolidated cost in the county building line items.


Second Item Discussed – Captain Joseph Purvis gave a presentation on various analysis of jail data.  Of particular importance to all was the discussion of probation and the relatively recent lawsuit that impacted Giles County.   Capt. Purvis gave a brief background on that lawsuit and what it addressed.  That being, Giles County used a private company to monitor probation who in turn required a fee from the inmate on probation.  Many times, that inmate couldn’t or chose not to pay that fee and was re-incarcerated, with that occurring many times for the same individual resulting in a never-ending cycle for many.  An out-of-state civil rights firm sued and was successful.  That means at this time there is little to no probation for misdemeanors with some limited exceptions.  Prior to this decision by the courts Giles County was considering enlarging the jail to house the inmates, many in jail for misdemeanors related to drugs.  That is no longer being considered due to decreased number of inmates jailed due to misdemeanors, and the data shown by Capt. Purvis mostly addressed those with felony charges.  Commissioner Tammy Mathis noted that in some cases the court’s decision results in the county violating some state laws, identifying DUIs and domestic violations.  A question to the FM about revenue for the county based on probation fees not being leveled against misdemeanors was raised.  She noted that she could take a look but she also noted that not adding on to the jail could have been considerable, with the Chair noting $30M.  Capt. Purvis discussed the new TCAT program providing training in occupational skills, including a Production Technician certification and that they had just had four inmates to graduate.  Commissioner Pruett noted that’s good, however most of the inmates have drug problems and is there anything being done, e.g., rehab, to help with that, perhaps from state programs.  Capt. Purvis said on this particular program the inmates were very carefully vetted, and if one does well that’s a win.   Capt. Purvis showed some information on juveniles, noting they are generally regarding vaping and passing improper photographs.  Capt. Purvis mentioned a call from another county asking about burglarized cars with guns being taken, but said in past year only three thefts for guns from cars.  Commissioner Joseph Sutton asked about trends anything jumping to the top in crimes, or going down.  Capt. Purvis said the DUI crimes were going down, that the drug crimes were always high with the property crimes generally drug related as well.  Capt. Purvis showed crimes by zip codes but the information was slewed in that zone 1 was high (hgwy 31/64) but that is because of how the location is shown from where reported, generally at the sheriff’s department.  Capt. Purvis was particularly pleased with the software bought in 2021, providing great analytical tools.  Commissioner Terry Jones brought up a particularly offensive sign with vulgar language, located on private property, that is passed daily by school children on the county’s school bus.  He asked if there was anything that could be done.  Capt. Purvis said he would check, but typically on personal property not much can be done, however if placed on moving cars that would be different.


Next Item to be discussed – Policies.  Capt. Purvis said that police officers are the highest in liability for the county, being sued himself countless times, investigated by the FBI, for example.  He said the county’s policy hasn’t been updated since 1995, except for use of force.  He has contacted Dagle Law, choice of several other counties, who write policy manuals for police departments.  An estimate of $24,500 one-time expense for each ($49,000 total), for jail and for the sheriffs’ department, and possible there could be an add-on as laws change.  The company would notify the county, for each individual piece update.  Commissioner Mathew Hopkins asked why not ask the state to do for all and pay only once (rather than each county having to pay for updates.)  Both Sheriff Helton and Capt. Purvis pointed out the challenges with doing that, i.e., some based on population numbers, some on pay for inmate warehousing, and noted on some push policies from state were adopted in toto but some were amended for their counties.  The Chair asked was this a request to be funded today with the FM stating she hoped to find within their existing budget, with Sheriff Helton noting if can’t would call another meeting.  A motion by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins, seconded by Commissioner Tim Risner to purchase the policy service if can be found in existing budget was approved unanimously.  The County Executive Graham Stowe asked the FM about the use of opioid dollars with the FM saying some have no restrictions, but some will have specific guidance but that information has not been forthcoming at this time.


Next Item for Discussion – Cameras.  Chief Deputy Brandon Beard gave an update noting that Viaglon has been purchased by Motorola and that he wants to keep the same type cameras so that the existing infrastructure can be used.  The Chair said at this time no action required.


Next Item for Discussion – School Resource Officers (SROs).  Since Tennessee Gov. Lee has identified additional funding for county SROs, Sheriff Helton said at this time there is not enough information on the funding to definitely identify how the funding will be applied.  However, he envisioned that after 1 July there will be two SROs at each high school.  If the funding allows, some of the funding currently being used by the county could be freed up for one more at the courthouse.  However, another meeting will be required.  A question from Commissioner Brad Butler on private schools was raised, since Gov Lee has set aside funding for private schools.  Commissioner Tammy Mathis questioned how those funds would be received, e.g., through county.  The Chair asked if the SROs are based on number of students with Chief Deputy Brandon Beard answering, the size of the campus.  Sheriff Helton said that Gov Lee wants input from TN Sheriffs since the majority of Sheriffs in TN provide the SROs.


Next Item for Discussion – On going projects.  Both Sheriff Helton and Chief Deputy Beard noted that with the litigation revenue you are supposed to have at least one project and right now fixing leaks on the west side of the jail has priority.  Commissioner Joseph Sutton asked about the recent storms passing through Giles County and has the jail experienced any damage from those storms.  Answer being not here.


New Business – Commissioner Gayle Jones asked about the locked exit door at the courthouse during the full commission meeting.  Sheriff Helton said we can fix that.


Commissioner Dr. James Lathrop moved for adjournment and with Commissioner Mathew Hopkins providing the second, the meeting was adjourned unanimously.


ATTENDEES:  Members of the committee – Chair Commissioner David Wamble, Other Commissioner members – Tammy Mathus, Dr. James Lathrop, Mathew Hopkins, Brad Butler, Tim Risner and Joseph Sutton (for Rose Brown – absent).   Other Commissioners in attendance – Judy Pruett, Terry Jones, David Adams, Joyce Woodard, Shelly Goolsby, Gayle Jones, Erin Curry, Roger Reedy  Others – County Executive Graham Stowe, Sheriff Kyle Helton, Chief Deputy Brandon Beard, Captain Joseph Purvis,   Financial Management Director Beth Moore-Sumners, Nancy Griffin, Emergency Management Director Bill Myers, and members of the public