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Hunter vies for ‘top cop’

Larry Hunter said he feels it’s time Knox County had a change in the leadership of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

Hunter will challenge incumbent Sheriff Tim Hutchison on the Republican ticket for the May 2, 2006, primary.

“I have nothing derogatory to say about Sheriff Hutchison and I plan to run a clean campaign,” Hunter said. “He and I just have different ideas on the way things should be done.”

Hunter, a 24-year veteran of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, recently retired in order to run for this office.

“The way the law is set up, you can’t run for sheriff while being on duty,” he said. “You either have to take a leave of absence or retire. I decided to retire.”

Hunter said he was captain of operations when he retired from the force. Having worked his way up through the ranks from patrol officer to captain, he said the experience he garnered makes him an ideal candidate for sheriff.

During that time as a patrol officer, he dealt with domestic disputes, robberies, assaults, hostage situations and a host of other situations. His experience in these areas helped him to rise through the ranks.

“There are some things I would do differently as sheriff,” he said.

One of the areas Hunter said he would like to focus attention on is the increasing number of high school deaths from excessive speed.

“I’ve done some talking to other people and other departments around the area, and the general consensus is programs like D.A.R.E. just aren’t working,” Hunter said. “What I would like to do is to take some of those resources away from that program and put them into other areas of education.”

He said too many high school teens are getting killed while driving.

“You know, you get a call about three in the morning about a teenager being killed in an accident and you wonder what a teenager was doing out at three in the morning on a school night,” Hunter said. “One of my priorities would be to get the parents involved in teaching their kids.”

Another area Hunter would like to focus on is public relations between the sheriff’s department and the community.

“If you have five patrol cars in a neighborhood, the way things stand right now the officers come off as arrogant because they aren’t allowed to tell anyone anything about what is going on in their own neighborhood,” Hunter said. “People just want to know if there is any danger to them or their families.”

Hunter said as sheriff he would allow officers to divulge a little more information to the public to keep concerns from running too high.

Hunter also promises to keep the media in the information loop, should he be elected sheriff.

“In a lot of newspaper articles you see phone calls to the sheriff’s office went unreturned,” he said. “I believe the media is what keeps the community informed about what is happening. If I’m elected sheriff, I’ll keep the media informed, provided that information doesn’t compromise an investigation.”

Hunter said if elected sheriff, his administration would be accountable to the public and county officials in all aspects, including use of money from drug arrests.

“If you are going to spend any kind of money, you need to get with other county officials on that before you do anything,” he said.

In terms of money, Hunter said he’d like to see the sheriff’s office build its own impound lot instead of leasing one as it does now.

“It would be more secure,” he said.

As sheriff, Hunter said he would strive for the creation of a special metropolitan crime victims unit between the city and county to deal with specifically two areas, child abuse and rape. This unit would consist of two teams of two people, one male and one female officer.

He said he would also strive to have all Knoxville Police Department officers issued deputy cards because sheriff’s deputies have jurisdiction anywhere in the county, but KPD officers only have jurisdiction in the city limits. The issuance of deputy cards would increase the range of law enforcement jurisdiction for Knoxville officers.

A 1968 graduate of Powell High School, Hunter was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1969 and spent two years as a combat medic. He returned to Tennessee and spent several years working for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

He joined the Knox County Sheriff’s Office in 1983 as a jailer and became a patrol officer in 1985. In 1991, he was promoted to patrol sergeant.

“(Hutchison) has faith in my experience and promoted me based on my merit,” Hunter said.

Hunter’s wife of 15 years, Janie, is a retired KCSO detective. He is also active in the Masonic Lodge.


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