Staying ready

Eric Watson Bradley County Sheriff
Posted 9/17/17

Television, radio, the internet and newspapers have been busy for the past couple of weeks, reporting on Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and their remnants.

These storms have caused untold billions of …

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Staying ready

Posted

Television, radio, the internet and newspapers have been busy for the past couple of weeks, reporting on Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and their remnants.

These storms have caused untold billions of dollars in damage and human suffering during the past month, almost back-to-back.

As Irma moved through the Caribbean, I knew there would be folks having to adjust to crisis mode. Such a situation is much more than people being uncomfortable, it is people’s lives in jeopardy from a large number of sources.

As we determined a general path for the storm, we knew two things: There would be evacuees coming to Bradley County to house and care for, and the BCSO and other local first responders would likely be asked to travel to the affected areas to provide safety and law enforcement services. We were looking ahead to what might be in store for Florida, the Carolinas, Georgia and, closer to home, in Southeast Tennessee.

I felt very strongly that how we dealt with this, or any crisis was important, whether it’s the recent Wacker plant situation or natural disaster. I created the Special Response Team to work through the Special Weapons and Tactical Team to add another layer of help for public safety and law enforcement.

I received an official request for such assistance just a day after Irma raked the area. Due to our being ready for such a call, I was able to send a Strike Team assembled with nine Bradley County Sheriff’s Office deputies, two Benton City officers and three Bradley County constables to parts of North Carolina and Florida, providing temporary security coverage.

This coverage is designed to stop looting and other criminal activity that tends to spring up after a disaster of this size. These officers were to serve these areas for a short time, giving regular law enforcement a chance to “reset” and return to their regular duties.

In Bradley County, one of the immediate challenges faced was the influx of folks traveling north to escape Irma. Families either passed through Bradley County via Interstate 75, or simply found a motel and stayed. One traveling family ran into trouble here when they lost their vehicle and belongings to a fire.

This is when the men and women of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office definitely rose to the occasion. Deputies provided a meal and a place to stay for the family, while Pastor Rick Ellis and Eagles Landing Worship Center donated food, clothing and a van to replace the one lost in the fire.

There are numerous instances where members of the BCSO rose beyond the call of duty. Two deputies, Cody Bell and Brandon Warren, donated their time and a boat to assist in search and rescue in the flood. They were a part of the extremely valuable group that saved lives.

These folks know their way around a boat; couple that with their training as law enforcement officers and a strong desire to serve, it equals a win for those people we serve, no matter how far away from home.

I am proud of the men and women of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office. They have shown in many instances lately that they can adapt quickly to any situation that comes their way.

I am also thankful for their strong desire to serve the public. It is evident that what they do in service to humanity is, most assuredly, a calling!

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