Grainger County residents hoping for change in race for sheriff

Grainger County residents hoping for change in race for sheriff


6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The race for Grainger County Sheriff is a critical election for voters this year following the department's recent history of scandal.

"Folks are just ready for a change," Rutledge resident Tim Orrick said. "The sheriff's department around here has been lax for a long time."

Under former Scott Layel's watch, three inmates escaped from the jail late last year which led to the arrest of five former jail employees.

Three former inmates also filed a lawsuit against the Grainger County Detention Facility alleging they were raped while in custody.

Grainger County Mayor Mark Hipsher said that lawsuit has been settled for an undisclosed amount.

Layel was at the center of controversy for months after residents and county workers complained he was not showing up for work.

Layel told 6 News he was dealing with ongoing health issues.

"I think our sheriff has been missing for some time and we're looking for somebody that will be there to take care of things and get things back on track," Rutledge resident Rhonda Moore said.

Layel was replaced by Chief Deputy Charles Biddle who is serving as acting sheriff.

6 News spoke with Grainger County Sheriff candidate Tony Williams by phone who said restoring the trust is key in this race.

"I want to get out and be a working sheriff and reassure the people of Grainger County that the security issues we had in the past is not going to happen in the future," Williams said.

Williams told 6 News he works as a canine officer with the Rutledge Police Department and has five years experience in law enforcement.

Another candidate, James Harville, served as Grainger County Sheriff from 2006 to 2010.

6 News spoke with Harville by phone but he declined to comment at all on the race, including when asked about his goals for the office.

Another candidate, Michael Toby Cameron, has worked for THP.

6 News has reported how Cameron was suspended for filing an inaccurate police report and for having sex while on the job in separate incidents.

6 News reached out to Cameron for comment but has not yet heard back.

The Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission confirmed all three candidates for Grainger County Sheriff are approved and qualified through the commission.

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