Newly-elected Knox Co. Sheriff has plans for next two years

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knox County Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones keeps his badge, but, for the first time, voters gave him the job, not county commission.

Sheriff Jones got about 58 percent of Thursday’s vote, and beat his democratic challenger, and former Knoxville Mayor, Randy Tyree.

Now, Sheriff's Jones has taken the voice of people as a thumbs up for what he has planned the next two years.

“The men and women at the sheriff's office know who's in charge."

Now, so does all of Knox County.

“The people know that this is Jimmy Jones, and not Tim Hutchison."

Knox County Commission appointed Jones to wear the badge once brandished by long-time Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison.

Now that he’s been elected, Jones has an agenda that included the possibility of a new downtown jail intake center.

“We spend about a million dollars a year transporting prisoners back and forth from the detention facility to downtown. That's wasteful and I think we can alleviate that problem."

Jones says the savings alone would pay for the center in about six to eight years.

Jones wants to handle the roughly 20 percent mentally ill population differently.

“Those people don't need to be in jail. They're the very-misdemeanor defendants."

But Jones says he doesn't want them tossed on the streets, either.

“The solution is to get them in some kind of housing, where they can be supervised by a case manager, make sure they stay on their medication."

When it comes to concerns about paying for the Sheriff Office's uniformed-officer pension plan, Jones says, “It's really not fair. The facts have not been put out correctly about our pension."

Jones says voters won't pay more to fund it.

When voters approved the pension plan, they also approved an eight cent tax increase.

County commission issued a $57 million bond to pay for the plan's deficit when the pension plan took affect, but, so far, voters haven't paid for either.

Jones says officers initially contributed $40 million to their plans. He says they put in about $1.7 million on their own every year.

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