The Wilson County Commission will appoint a sheriff Monday to complete the term of retired Sheriff Terry Ashe. The commission’s vote will determine who runs the department until the next election in 2014.
"It's on the agenda," confirmed county attorney Mike Jennings.
He said as of Friday morning, it is a two-man race. The two men in the running are interim Sheriff Robert Bryan, a veteran of the Wilson County Sheriff's Department; and Deputy Chief James Hambrick with the Mt. Juliet Police Department.
"Only two are qualified now," Jennings said. "If there is someone else out there, I've not heard of it."
Jennings said not just anyone off the street can apply for the job. Candidates must prove they possess the necessary training and experience to handle the job.
"They have to pick up an application, and it has to be filed with the [Peace Officers Standards of Training] Commission, and they have 14 days to certify that they meet all the qualifications," Jennings said.
The Tennessee POST Commission is responsible for developing and enforcing standards and training for all state police officers. Serving as the primary regulatory body for Tennessee law enforcement, the POST Commission develops and enforces standards for law enforcement agencies statewide including physical, educational, and proficiency skills requirements for both employment and training.
With both Bryan and Hambrick qualifying for the job, the commission will have to weigh both candidates carefully.
Hambrick, 50, has been with the Mt. Juliet Police Department just more than 17 years, starting as a dispatcher and reserve officer. The last 15 years he has been MJPD's chaplain as well.
Hambrick said he will be in attendance at Monday night's meeting. He said he wasn't nervous, just happy to have a shot.
"I'm grateful for an opportunity to serve the citizens of Wilson County," he said.
Hambrick has an impressive resume. He is an author having written the book "Holiness in an Unholy Society." He is also a preacher and possesses a doctorate in psychology and clinical Christian counseling.
He noted that his study of psychology serves him well on the job.
"It gives me insight into both employees and offenders," Hambrick said.
Robert Bryan, 42, was Ashe's assistant chief deputy and chosen by Ashe to run the department until the commission makes an appointment. He grew up at the department with his father, Cecil Bryan, who was sheriff from 1968-74.
Bryan has 27 years' experience with the Lebanon Police Department and Wilson County Sheriff’s Office. He was appointed acting sheriff Oct. 1, when Ashe transitioned to become the executive director of the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association.
Bryan began his career in law enforcement in the Lebanon Police Department in 1989. He joined the WCSD in 1999 and worked his way up the ranks. He is now in his 24th year as a peace officer. Bryan said he too would be at the commission meeting Monday night to learn his fate.
"I'm feeling good. I've gotten a good reception from a lot of people," Bryan said. "They've got a decision to make and I'll stand behind it whatever it is."
He praised his opponent.
"Hambrick is qualified, and he's a good person," Bryan said. "It's good that people put their name in for public service. After all's said and done, we'll get back to work together."
Jennings said the appointment gives the commission's ultimate choice the official title with no strings attached.
"They'll be considered sheriff," he said explaining it will take a majority of the commission to choose Ashe's successor.
"It takes 13 votes," Jennings said. "We have 25 county commissioners usually, but we have a vacancy now, so there are 24; but it will still take 13 votes."
Jennings said he doesn't envy the commissioners who have to make such a tough decision.
"Those are two good men I think," Jennings said.
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 444-3952, ext. 45 or firstname.lastname@example.org.