Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Masthead
Former Sheriffs

The Sheriffs of Hamilton County
Portrait of Sheriff Robert Bass

A native of Clayton, Alabama Robert P. Bass served as sheriff of Hamilton County from 1918 to 1920. Bass and his his brother, Ed (who became mayor), served the people of the county most of their lives.

Bass was educated in Chattanooga schools and learned the trade of painting early in his life. He became a charter member of the first painter’s union ever organized in this city, but painting was not to become his life’s work. In 1903, he became a member of the Chattanooga Police Department where he eventually was made chief of detectives.

In 1918, Bass was elected sheriff of Hamilton County and became a very popular community leader. His family played a vital role in his life throughout his law enforcement career. His fourteen year old twin sons were pictured in the Chattanooga News in 1918 for assisting their father in the capture of a moonshine still.

Sheriff Bass and twin sons portrait.

Bass had an extensive knowledge of law enforcement. He realized the need for jailers to be assigned eight-hour shifts and was the first sheriff to implement the idea. Although his expertise in criminal justice matters was undisputed, Bass chose not to run for sheriff in 1920. He retired to his farm for a period of time and was then reappointed to the detective division of the Chattanooga Police Department where he remained until his retirement.

After persistent illness, Bass died of a cerebral hemorage in 1945.

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