Citizens for Better Government
Blount County Tennessee
You have worked for an organization for years. One day your boss calls you in. He tells you he has a tape of a conversation where his wife, suspicious about his extracurricular activities, asked you to confirm her suspicions. He tells you that: “your ass is fired, you get out of here”. He then tells you: “I’ll burn your house down, set your dog on fire and there won’t be a member of your family left, do you understand me?” Then he adds “I won’t hire it done, I will do it myself! Do you understand me?” Would you feel that your rights have been violated?
This is the scary picture painted in a recent lawsuit ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of appeals. These threats were not made by some Mafia thug. They were allegedly made by Blount County Sheriff, James Berrong.
Incredibly, the Court of Appeals concluded Berrong’s threats did not rise to a constitutional violation because the threats did not “shock the conscience”. We do not know about the Appeals Court Judges, but these threats surely shock consciences of most of our citizens – especially when the come from the top law enforcement officer in Blount County.
The department is already facing multiple $1,000,000+ lawsuits alleging serious mistreatment of citizens – including a local physician. The lack of professionalism at the top of our Sheriff’s Department seems to have the county careening toward disaster.
Our greatest concern is that this court decision will encourage even more threats and intimidation of citizens by the Blount County Sheriff’s Department. Be careful out there – especially of the top dogs in our Sheriff’s department.