KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The former Knox County Sheriff, Jimmy "JJ" Jones, has been away from the office for more than two years after Tom Spangler began serving the county. Now, Jones is saying he wants the chance to serve again.
"I have missed the citizens and officers of Knox County," Jones said. "I look forward to serving them again."
He was reelected by a wide margin in 2014 after being challenged by Bobby Waggoner and Charles "Sam" Hammett Jr. All three ran as Republicans. Jones was Knox County Sheriff from 2010 - 2018.
One part of Jones' time as sheriff included participating in the federal government's 287(g) program, which flagged and tracked immigrants who came into the country illegally. The program has been controversial in Knox County, and Spangler continued participating in the program.
He emphasized that deputies would not actively look for undocumented residents as part of the program. However, federal immigration officers also told the Knox County Sheriff's Office to "stand down" the program, except for specific circumstances, after President Biden was elected.
Spangler, the current sheriff, was elected as the Knox County Sheriff in 2018. His first move was to reduce the length of shifts for patrolmen from 12 hours. Recently, he said that the county has seen an uptick in homicides after three teens were killed around Austin-East High School.
Jones will face Spangler in the Republican primary, scheduled for May 3, 2022.