Patrolling may increase in Farragut

Some homeowners' associations consider hiring off-duty officers

May 14, 2007

Farragut neighborhood homeowners' associations are considering hiring off-duty Knox County Sheriff's Office deputies to patrol the streets on nights and weekends.

The town does not have a police force and relies on an agreement with the Sheriff's Office for the current level of law enforcement protection.

The Fox Den neighborhood in Farragut already uses off-duty deputies to patrol the streets, while the Village Green Homeowners' Association said it now is considering hiring deputies.

The concern in Village Green was sparked by reports in February of suspicious activity in the subdivision, along with escalating traffic problems from drivers who use the neighborhood as a shortcut between Kingston Pike and Grigsby Chapel Road.

A traffic initiative in Village Green that involved "speed calming devices" was defeated in an April 25 vote. The motion required 70 percent of the neighborhood's 400 households to vote for the devices. The measure only received about 65 percent.

"When the traffic calming initiative failed, we realized that we had to do something," said Cindee Miller, president of the Village Green homeowners' association.

Miller, whose dog was killed in front of her home last year by a speeding hit-and-run driver, said the study that monitored traffic in the area prior to the vote on the speed bumps showed that drivers race through the neighborhood at speeds of up to 85 mph.

"Now that we know how fast people are driving in the neighborhood, we have to do something," Miller added.

The officers, who would patrol the neighborhood and its perimeters in unmarked vehicles in four-hour shifts mostly on weekend nights, would have the authority to stop motorists for traffic violations and issue warnings, Miller said.

The officers also might be used for traffic control during events such as swim meets that are held regularly at the neighborhood pool during summer months.

Miller said the Village Green Homeowners' Association is considering the move but also is concerned about the budget. The deputies would cost about $27 per hour. "We might be able to get it in the budget for 2008," she said.

The deputies on patrol in Fox Den are members of the Sheriff's Office SWAT team and drive unmarked county vehicles, according to KCSO spokeswoman Martha Dooley. All deputies are contracted with the homeowners' associations in the same way that they might be hired to provide security at private events.

An assistant chief is required to approve all such off-duty activity by deputies, Dooley said. Fox Den is currently the only neighborhood in the county making use of KCSO for such patrol services.