- Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2016

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office has launched a new program to increase understanding between students and law enforcement.

The Sheriff’s Laws Program kicked off Thursday at Red Bank High School, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported (https://bit.ly/1QoMIKn).

Sheriff Jim Hammond said the program is intended to encourage students to report criminal behavior to law enforcement as well as build a better relationship between them.

During his visit to the school, Hammond described the fear he experienced as a young law enforcement officer, recalling a time when he had to climb down basement stairs because a woman had said an intruder was hiding down there.

“Turns out, it was a cat on a shelf making some ruckus,” Hammond told the group of about 50 students. “But, yes, you do get nervous. Law enforcement is 90 percent boredom and 10 percent sheer terror.”

Hammond plans to visit numerous high schools and middle schools in the coming months.

“I think there is a general trend, especially among teenagers, to think police are the enemy,” Hammond said. “And we’re not. We’re here to say to them, ‘We’re here to help you.’”

Hammond said he was prompted to take a more active role in schools after accusations surfaced that school officials helped cover up the assault of a freshman basketball player in Ooltewah. The case is still under investigation.

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Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, https://www.timesfreepress.com


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