Hardeman County sheriff files lawsuit over low pay and lack of funding for department

Local I-Team

HARDEMAN COUNTY, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – The sheriff of Hardeman County is so fed up, he has sued the county mayor. The lawsuit essentially says the sheriff doesn’t have enough employees, current employees aren’t paid enough, and broken equipment is putting his employees and the public’s safety at risk.

The lawsuit outlines why the Hardeman County Sheriff says he needs more money to operate.

“Under Tennessee law, the only way the sheriff can get adequate pay and more deputies to protect the people of Hardeman county is to file a lawsuit,” said attorney Roy Herron.

Attorney Roy Herron filed the lawsuit on behalf of Hardeman County Sheriff John Doolen. Herron says starting pay for jailors is $10 an hour, and just slightly more for deputies. He says the pay is so low, some employees qualify for assistance.

“These are working people, who get welfare because the pay is so poor here,” said Herron.

Pay in almost all of the surrounding counties is higher, so he says the low pay means turnover is constant.

Herron says the department also needs at least another seven deputies just to bring it up to the state staffing average.

Another problem is equipment issues. Some squad cars don’t work because Herron says the maintenance budget was slashed. He says communications equipment is broken and same with video cameras in the jail,

“They don’t have the protection and video they need to see everywhere they need to see. It’s a matter of public safety. It’s a matter of protecting those who protect us,” said Herron.

“The lawsuit is over more deputies. They want more deputies and we think they have enough,” said Hardeman County Mayor Jimmy Sain.

Sain said he could not do an interview with the Local I-Team because there was not a lawyer present.

Herron says the county has millions in reserve in the bank.

“When you’ve got $4.5 million in the bank, it’s time to turn loose some of it to hire the deputies the people need, and pay the deputies the people need, and the jailors who do the work behind me,” said Herron.

Herron says this isn’t just a Hardeman County issue. He said sheriffs in other counties in West Tennessee, such as Madison County, may follow suit.

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