Frustrated Driver Meets Department With No Officers
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May 11, 2009 - 5:10 PM
The old saying goes you never can find a police officer when you need one. Right now, no one can in Calhoun, Tennessee. Steve Hughes, the most recent chief resigned after only about six weeks on the job. Hughes and the other officer weren't state certified.
We went to Calhoun's Police Department today and found no officers on the job. That proved to be a pointed problem for one man we found.
Bill Aragon lives in Cleveland but came to Calhoun to try and settle this speeding ticket. He was well aware of the precarious predicament he was walking into. "I'm not sure what to do anyway," Aragon said.
But this traveling businessman hit a major snag. Not a single Calhoun police officer is working right now. Chief Steve Hughes resigned for personal reasons, according to the City Manager.
And last Thursday, the Peace Officer and Standards Commission ruled the officers were not certified. The department usually only has two officers. POST is the state body that certifies all officers.
That only added to Aragon's frustration. "The whole thing has been grossly inconvenient to begin with. I don't believe I was speeding to start. And then to find out the person who gave me the ticket didn't have the right to give me a ticket," Aragon said. We found out differently. Details are at the end of this story.
Clearly this has been a problem for Aragon and the approximate 500 people who live here. We took those questions to the City Manager.
We asked David Wilson if Aragon's ticket, or those written by uncertified officers were even valid. City Manager Wilson said, "They will have to be paid because the boys(officers) will be here in June the first to testify against the speeders they got."
After searching for several minutes, the city clerk found Aragon's ticket. He still had several questions and waited to pay the $125 fine, with his time already wasted. "And now I'm taking my day, my time whatever value you want to put on that to come and pay it?" Aragon asked rhetorically.
Two Calhoun residents declined to comment on camera about a lack of officers. Both pointed to the politics driving this and fearing possible repercussions. For now, the McMinn County Sheriff's Department patrols this small city.
The City Manager says he's interviewing new candidates, who need psychiatric evaluations and a couple of other things.
"They got to have a physical and send their post certified papers in, that's it," Wilson said. We asked if these candidates had the required training and Wilson said they did.