Sheriff Investigating Complaints Of Blue Light Flashers

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Cannon County Sheriff Darrell Young said today he is investigating complaints his office has received about persons, not representing one of the county's law enforcement agencies, possibly making improper traffic stops.

Sheriff Young also issued the following statement concerning the use of blue flashing emergency lights by persons operating motor vehicles.

“I have not and will not authorize anyone to run blue lights other than full-time, salaried employees,” the sheriff said. "Anyone not authorized to do so will be prosecuted."

Sheriff Young advised that if a person is not sure who is stopping or chasing them, to call 911 and drive to the sheriff's office or police department.

One of the instances the sheriff's office is investigating involves First District Constable Jim Gibbs.

Sheriff Young said he has also received information Faye Morse, Cannon County's EMA director, was utilizing blue lights on her vehicle.

According to state law, “… it is unlawful for anyone to install, maintain or exhibit blue flashing emergency lights or blue flashing emergency lights in combination with red flashing emergency lights, except full-time, salaried, uniformed law enforcement officers of the state, county or city and municipal governments of the state, and commissioned members of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation when their official duties so require…”

The prohibition does not apply to the motor vehicles of constables who are wearing law enforcement uniforms designed by the governing body of the county in which they serve.

State law grants duly-elected constables law enforcement powers. The Cannon County Commission voted to remove the law enforcement powers of county constables earlier this year. However, the constables will continue to have those powers until their current terms expire.

In addition, state law is not clear as to whether constables can exercise their law enforcement powers unless operating under the directive of a sheriff, police chief, district attorney or court.

Also today, the Cannon County Emergency Communications District (E-911) said it is not authorized to dispatch calls to constables and has not established call numbers for them.

Following are state laws pertaining to the use of patrol cars and wearin of uniforms by constables:

8-10-120. Constable patrol cars.

(a)  Constable patrol cars may be white with a brown stripe running horizontally along the upper side. This color scheme shall not be used by any other state or local law enforcement official or agency; provided, that any state or local law enforcement official or agency that is using such color scheme on March 29, 1996, may continue to use such color scheme. When adopted for use by a county constable, the stripe design and other emblems and lettering shall conform to the official uniform markings adopted by the Tennessee constable association or the Tennessee constable council on file with the director.

(b)  Constable patrol cars which conform to the description in subsection (a), which are being operated as provided in § 55-9-414, and which are used as emergency vehicles, may be equipped with blue lights and/or red lights and sirens.

(c)  Nothing in this section shall prohibit a county constable from operating unmarked cars for other law enforcement purposes.

(d)  Any constable operating a patrol car and using the lights described in this section must have graduated from the last calendar date in-service sponsored by the Tennessee constable association or the Tennessee constable council.

(e)  Each constable shall be responsible for all costs in marking patrol cars.

(f)  The provisions of this section shall not apply in any county which has removed from constables any law enforcement powers.

(g)  This section does not apply in counties having a population of not less than fourteen thousand six hundred fifty (14,650) nor more than fifteen thousand (15,000) according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census.

[Acts 1996, ch. 686, §§ 3, 4; 2004, ch. 655, §§ 2, 3.]

8-10-119 - Official uniform.

(a)  Any constable may wear the official uniform of the type and design with the insignias of the Tennessee constable as described in subsection (b). Wearing of the uniform is permissive with the individual constable when such uniform is purchased by the constable; provided, that if such uniform is provided by the county, then the uniform shall be worn in accordance with a dress code adopted by the county legislative body or the sheriff of such county.

(b)  The official uniform for the constable shall consist of:

(1)  Taupe pants with a one-inch wide brown stripe running vertically down each side of the pants;

(2)  Shirts of either dark brown or white, at the discretion of the constable, displaying a patch of a design approved by the Tennessee constable association or the Tennessee constable council;

(3)  A necktie of either taupe or brown, at the discretion of the constable; and

(4)  Black leather gear and black shoes. Western type belts, holsters and tie-downs are prohibited.

(c)  The provisions of this section do not apply in any county which has removed from constables any law enforcement powers.

(d)  This section does not apply in counties having a population of not less than fourteen thousand six hundred fifty (14,650) nor more than fifteen thousand (15,000) according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census.

[Acts 1996, ch. 686, §§ 2, 4; 2004, ch. 655, § 1.]  

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Members Opinions:
November 14, 2011 at 6:34pm
Once again our Sheriff’s Department is right on top of this. Sheriff Young is investigating it and hopefully Jim Gibbs rights will be taken away permanently. Someone is going to get hurt.

If the Sheriff’s department is investigating it, that means that there have been more than one time that this has been done.....We have a great Sheriff’s Department and Police Department. They don’t need someone running around pretending to be an officer of the law and throwing around “arrest” power they don’t have. Thank you Sheriff for looking into this matter and we are assured that it will be reported what the outcome and the consequences will be for this former security guard and want to be Police Officer. Until then, we all know now we don’t need to stop when the gold car with the blue lights tries to pull us over........
November 14, 2011 at 6:55pm
BUT what are people doing to be pulled over in the first place???? If it was a drunken driver I would certainly hope someone pulled them over. That could save a life. It's just another political drama for Cannon. Actually, that began over Jim Gibbs when I moved here in 1999. I think he ran for sheriff. I wish the cops would catch all the speeders in the county that go like 70to80 miles per hour down Hollow Springs road where children play and bicycles go, and pets roam, and people walk. It's really just a play of power.I do not know any of the parties involved. How about focusing on the youth of the county and forget all the political motivated inuendos. Hey, while their at it, maybe they can get rid of a lot of the dope heads around the country side too! Hey if the guys for doing good, and helping law enforcement, why are they so dead set against the help?? Could it be he would make them look bad??? I voted for Young. I think he's great, but some things are really not that important.
November 14, 2011 at 9:51pm
It is important if someone is “pretending” to be a Police Officer, stopping people illegally and if it was YOUR daughter that was being followed bumper to bumper, you would HOPE she would speed up and get away from the perpitrator! Jim Gibbs is NOT a police officer, never bothered to call anyone and let them know he stopped someone and does not have the RIGHT to stop anyone without proper uniform, a proper vehicle and proper attire and just say he can push the law and has the power to do so. Darrell Young is on top of it as shown in the article above. If this man was truly speeding for a joy ride, he never would have admitted it online and put an article in the paper. He plainly stated he was trying to get this person off his bumper and had no idea WHO he was. Against his better judgment he stopped. Jim Gibbs never had any authority to stop him. No siren, NO PAPER TO GIVE A TICKET and never informed anyone else that he was doing this BEFORE he did it and he had a radio that he could have used when he got in RANGE of it working and chose not to. I don’t want my children stopping their vehicle for someone like this. He needs to be stopped or any constable that does this needs to be stopped, it is AGAINST THE LAW!
November 15, 2011 at 6:57am
Clearly this is a matter of public safety and concern, one which needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.

It is clear that local law enforcement agencies do not recognize Cannon County constables as law enforcement officers. The Cannon County Commission has expressed its will that constables no longer have law enforcement powers. The court system does not utilize constables. State law is unclear as to under what circumstances and authority constables can exercise law enforcement powers.

If what Constable Gibbs did Thursday night is determined by the sheriff and district attorney to be outside Gibb's scope of legal authority, then he should be charged with Impersonating an Officer, and the court system should settle the issue.

If it is determined Constable Gibbs did have the authority to make the traffic stop, it should also be determined whether he followed legal procedure and adhered to all legal requirements in doing so.
November 15, 2011 at 11:07am
Thank you Sheriff Young for starting these investigations. These constables need to be stopped.
November 15, 2011 at 11:22am
When Cannon County gets zoning laws they will need someone/someones to enforce those laws. Maybe that would be a good position for the constable. I am not informed on the duties of a constable nor am I informed on the requirements for zoning law enforcement but if we are paying the constables anyway then we can utilize them for that need. Just a thought.
November 16, 2011 at 6:28pm
Wow! I saw the video that Mr. Gibbs took of the red vehicle. He was at least 5 car lengths away from the truck. Why was that boy going sooo fast? If he wasn't doing anything, why did he run? He clearly could have killed innocent people. I have lost a little boy in my family due to someone's speed and reckless driving. Ambulances do not have the authority to drive reckless and pass on a yellow double line, why should a volunteer fire fighter? I hope Sheriff Young looks at the video of the event and I hope he takes action.
November 17, 2011 at 7:14am
Pardon me fab five but i have indeed seen ambulances cross double yellows and ambulances in Rutherford county drive facing opposing traffic when they have a green light. Do not make statements because you haven't seen it. It happens and if you actually would listen to the video you would hear Gibbs followed shortly behind him. So is Gibbs above the law. No. The video doesn't start off on WSMV with gibbs up on Jesse's bumper does it. No it starts off after the fact.
November 17, 2011 at 11:09am
Sheriff if it is against the law for both of them to be running blue lights, arrest them! Enough is enough!
James Adkins
November 19, 2011 at 4:09pm
All EMA equipment should be stored a Sheriff Dept.There is no reason that this equipment that belonges to Taxpayers should be used for personal use.Might be the right time for the grand Jury to take a look.
November 20, 2011 at 10:08am
I would not pull over for one of these "wannabes".
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