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80 Years Ago

Archives 01-22-2003






Children thrilled by county's first snow
Locker room cameras top School Board discussions
Dispatchers to be disciplined after stop led to dog shooting


Children thrilled by county's first snow

Becky Meredith/OCN staff

Most children across the region were thrilled with last week's snowfall. The snow wasn't enough to keep area residents at home, but still enough to do a little sledding. Cameron Levi Brown, of Alpine, couldn't get enough of the powdery stuff. Even after four hours of sledding, he gazes out the window, wishing he could be outside.


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Locker room cameras top School Board discussions


With rumors running rampant around the county about security cameras in the locker rooms of Livingston Middle School, Director of Schools Bill Needham assured School Board members during the regular monthly meeting held Tuesday, Jan. 14 that the school system is cooperating fully with local authorities investigating the matter.

Reading a statement he had previously released to the press, Needham said, "After learning that two of the school system security cameras at one of our schools might be picking up a portion of an inappropriate area, immediate action was taken to determine the facts.

"The two cameras were removed and the computer system has been secured with the local police department."

He further stated that although the local authorities would determine what, if any, criminal investigation is required, the school system had procured the services of an outside agency to conduct an internal investigation into the matter, independent of the criminal investigation.

"I know everyone wants this matter settled as soon as possible and we're doing everything we can to expedite it,” he said.

School Board Chairman Jerry Glasscock indicated that a work session would be held immediately following the School Board meeting to address several issues, including further discussion of the security camera matter.

With no executive action items to be addressed, Board members approved the following new business items: Approved the second reading of change to policy IDEA line 4 by replacing it with the following: "School athletics shall be coached only by employees of the Board of Education and volunteer assistants that have been approved by the Director of Schools."

Approved Local Amendment #7 Safe and Drug Free 2002-01 Carry-Over Original Budget. Approved Local Amendment #8 Title I 2002-21 Carry-Over Original Budget.

Approved Local Amendment #9 Title II 2002-21 Carry-Over Original Budget.

Approved Special Education Class Size Policy.

Approved Julia Roberts letter of resignation, effective January 8.

Director of Schools Bill Needham issued the Director's Report to the School Board. Actions taken by the school director were as follows:

Hired Carla Gardner at Livingston Academy as an aide, beginning January 6 and continuing until May 9.

Hired Dale Flatt at Alternative School, effective January 6. Hired Pearl Masters as certified substitute teacher.

Hired the following as non-certified substitute teachers: Heidi Camp, Tony Conner, Jennifer Hammons, Donna Maynord, Stacy Brown, and Ginger Stephens.

Approved medical leave for Beatrice Nivens from January 6 until March 10.

Approved medical leave for Melanie Staggs from December 9, 2002, until Jan. 13, 2003.

Approved medical leave for Lonnie Ford.

Assigned Vickie Gwen Tayse to Wilson Elementary.

The meeting adjourned.


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Dispatchers to be disciplined after stop led to dog shooting

Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Mark V. Fagan is recommending a written warning and crisis training for a THP dispatcher who issued a communique that was sent to local law enforcement agencies on January 1.

In a memorandum to Department of Safety Commissioner Jerry W. Scott, Col. Fagan wrote that the notice was "the catalyst that set forth the unfortunate chain of events that followed," and that the Tennessee Highway Patrol officers in Cookeville "acted with probable cause in making a felony stop of the Smoak vehicle, based on the information they received” from THP dispatchers.

Col. Fagan also found that the stop was conducted within the guidelines set forth in the Tennessee Department of Safety General Order 505, which addresses felony stops.

Mr. and Mrs. James Smoak and their son, Brandon, of Saluda, NC, were pulled over on Interstate 40 in a felony stop on New Year's Day. The three were detained and handcuffed, and a Cookeville Police Department officer who was assisting THP with the traffic stop shot their dog, Patton, after the animal ran out of the Smoak's car.

Communications Officer Shannon Pickard will receive the warning for failing to comply with a written directive regarding the use of non-recorded communicaiton devices in the radio room. Much of the conversation between dispatchers in the Nashville and Cookeville THP districts was conducted on a Nextel telephone/radio, instead of a recorded radio or telephone line, a violation of a written directive sent out to dispatchers in 2001.

In addition, Pickard and Cookeville THP dispatchers Timothy Hood and Brian Brock have been ordered to attend Crisis Management Training. THP Jackson District Dispatch Supervisor Joe Kinman, who is highly trained in the area of Effective Communication, administered to eight-hour course earlier this week.

Commissioner Scott said the decision to accept Col. Fagan's recommendations is based on Operator Pickard's exemplary service record. Pickard has been with the Department of Safety for nine years, and has never had any disciplinary action taken against him.

Commissioner Scott said, "I have always maintained that discipline serves no purpose unless it educates the violator. In this case, Shannon has been educated."

Other actions and recommendations from Col. Fagan, and accepted by Commissioner Scott, include the following:

Nextel telephone/radio communications have been prohibited from use between dispatchers and field personnel in all THP Dispatch Centers.

The Training Division of the Tennessee Department of Safety will use this incident in its curriculum for all cadets and in-service training of all personnel.

Recommendation that General Order 505 be revised to address the issue of animals that may be present in a vehicle during a traffic/felony stop.

Recommendation that all dispatchers and commissioned members of the Department receive remedial training in Effective Communications to include both oral and written reports and documents.

Col. Fagan wrote, "I deeply regret the circumstances that led members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol to conduct a felony stop on the Smoak family, and the subsequent shooting of their family pet by a member of the Cookeville Police Department. My sympathy goes out to the Smoak family for the loss of their beloved pet, Patton.

"While we cannot change the course of events that occurred on January 1, 2003, we can take measures to ensure such an incident does not reoccur."



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Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486


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