The Command Staff is comprised of 7 people that work closely with the Sheriff to administer the numerous divisions and personnel. These individuals are comprised of various Division leaders, IT staff, and other support personnel. The Command Staff meets each week to discuss ongoing departmental concerns, finance-oriented issues, technology directives, correctional administration, human resource initiatives, state as well as local compliance, and public relations with press and media outlets.
Sheriff Jim Hammond is the current Sheriff of Hamilton County and has been since August of 2008. His Sheriff’s Office personnel consist of three hundred and eighty-six full-time and thirty-three part-time employees. His area of coverage is Hamilton County, which is the fourth largest county in the state of Tennessee. As a Constitutional Elected Official of the State of Tennessee, Sheriff Hammond brings over 54 years of law enforcement experience to his credit, including 15 Years as Chief Deputy. He is also a veteran of the US Navy, an international police instructor, and former adjunct instructor for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is married to his wife of 40 years, Jeannie and they have three children and 8 Grandchildren. Sheriff Hammond has a B.A. degree in psychology from Tennessee Temple University, as well as a B.S. and Masters Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Chief Deputy Allen Branum began his law enforcement career as a patrol officer with the Soddy-Daisy Police Department in January 1977. As a patrol sergeant in 1985, he left to accept employment with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff H.Q. Evatt and Chief Deputy Jim Hammond. He worked in the Patrol, Narcotics and Major Crimes Divisions there until 1999. He returned to Soddy-Daisy to serve as Chief of Police and was there for over seven years. He served also on the Soddy-Daisy Board of Commissioners in the early 1990’s for five years with two of those years as mayor of Soddy-Daisy. On September 1, 2006, Allen was sworn in as chief deputy under former Sheriff Billy Long. He was later appointed Sheriff of Hamilton County after Sheriff Long resigned due to federal charges brought against him. In August 2008, Jim Hammond was elected as Hamilton County Sheriff and asked Allen to remain as his Chief Deputy.
Married to Donna Branum since February of 1981, they have two adult sons, Lee and Jay and have lived in the Hamilton County/Soddy-Daisy area all of their lives. Allen and Donna are members of Christ Family Church (Church of God) in Soddy-Daisy where he has served as a Deacon and an Elder. Allen has been involved in service to this community since his teenage years when he became a volunteer fireman in 1971. He has been involved with several civic organizations over the years and currently serves as president of the Soddy-Daisy Firefighters Association. Allen has completed in excess of 2,000 hours of specialized public safety training during his career, including graduating from the first class of the South East Command and Leadership Academy with the University of Tennessee in 2001.
Deputy Chief Joseph Fowler is the Deputy Chief of Corrections for the Hamilton County Jail. He served in the United States Army for nearly 22 years, with seventeen of those years in military corrections/detainee operations.
Joseph attained the highest enlisted rank of Sergeant Major and completed all appropriate leadership training. During his 23 year tenure with the Army, he served at the Correctional NCO, Camp Humphries, Korea; was a Course Manager at the United States Army Military Police School; was a First Sergeant at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and served as Directorate of Operations Sergeant Major at the United States Disciplinary Barracks. Joseph also served as the Deputy Warden at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility in Ellsworth Kansas.
He is certified by the American Correctional Association as a Corrections Manager, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Colombia College and a Master of Arts in Leadership Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice, Public Leadership and Management program. He is a Certified Jail Manager from the American Jail Association and a Certified Corrections Executive from the American Correctional Association. He married his wife Lisa in 2002. Along with their two children Joseph and Rayne, they live in Ooltewah, Tennessee.
Director G.A. “Gino” Bennett is the Director of the Support Services Division which supervises Training, Records, Communications, PIO and Community Relations, Accreditation and Standards, Grants, the HCSO and County-wide Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT), Internship Program, Leadership Development, Wrecker and Bonding Companies, Planning and Research, Courts Building Volunteers and is the senior editor of The Roll Call, the agency’s monthly newsletter. Director Bennett has 18 years of service in the Sheriff’s Office. He is an honor graduate, holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a double major in English, Bible and Psychology. He is married to Jeannie, his wife of almost 47 years, and they have two children and one grandchild.
Director Don Gorman is the Director of Administration which includes Human Resources (HR), Purchasing, Finance and Information Technology (IT). He is responsible for managing a budget of over fifty-one million dollars. As with his counterpart, the Director of Support Services, Director Gorman is responsible for several other special projects that the Sheriff’s Office undertakes. He is a past Chairman of the County Executive Safety Committee, and still serves as a member. He was previously the United Way Representative for the HCSO 8 years. Director Gorman has eleven (11) years of experience at the Sheriff’s Office, but also has just under twenty-seven (27) years of military experience in the US Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard, retiring from his full-time position with the National Guard in 2000 as the Chief Logistics Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, a Master Sergeant. Director Gorman has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organizational Management from Covenant College.
Director Gorman is married to his wife Carri, and has four children (three sons, Jeff, Nick and Taylor and a daughter, Gabrielle) as well as two grandsons, Mason and Riley. Between Don and Carri, they have six children and five grandchildren.
Kacey Picou is the Executive Administrative Assistant to both the Sheriff and Chief Deputy. She provides administrative support; scheduling and clerical help to the Sheriff and Chief, as well as the rest of the Command Staff. She also assists in a variety of functions including taking minutes for the Command Staff Meetings and numerous “special duties” as required. Kacey has been with the HCSO since 2012 and has worked in a variety of capacities, including Information Systems and Criminal Records. Kacey and her husband are originally from Louisiana but love living in the Scenic City since 2000.
Ron Bernard is the Information Systems Manager which includes leadership of the IT and Central Records Divisions. He is responsible for maintaining and improving upon software and hardware systems used throughout the HCSO. Ron has been with the HCSO nine years, but has a total of twenty-seven years of professional IT experience, including twenty of those years leading high performing I.T. Teams. In the nine years with the HCSO, Ron has witnessed the explosive growth of technology use and works hard implementing the strategic role that IT and Central Records play for the agency. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Bryan College and an Associate of Computer Science degree from Lakeland Community College. Ron and his wife Belinda have four children, daughters Megan and Sara and sons Sam and Scotty. Ron and Belinda have made Chattanooga home since 2002, are active members of Redbank United Methodist church and are active in the Tennessee foster care system by partnering with Chambliss Children’s home to foster children in state custody, and are adoptive parents.