Quarantines, litter and meeting split on the table for Law Enforcement Committee

Published 10:36 am Friday, December 6, 2019

In a follow-up to previous conversations about quarantined homes in Carter County, Carlos Gutierrez from the Dangerous Drug Task Force came to the Law Enforcement Committee’s meeting Tuesday evening to clarify the process of quarantining a home and answer the committee’s questions.

“There is a loophole where people are not going to law enforcement,” Gutierrez said.

The way the process should work is, law enforcement sets the quarantine, and then the responsibility of ordering a cleaning service and turning in the necessary paperwork falls to the homeowner. They then have to send that paperwork to both the Sheriff’s Office and the county clerk’s office.

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Chief James Parish said the final step is not happening like it should.

“There has been a lack of internal controls across the board,” Parish said.

Because the paperwork never reaches the Sheriff’s Department, the quarantine never clears.

TLC Director Angie Odom, who first raised the issue a few months ago, said she will continue to work with the Sheriff’s Office and the DDTF to reach a resolution.

Towards the end of the meeting, Mike Hill raised the possibility of splitting their block of committee meetings into two, smaller meetings of two committees each.

“I only see the Buildings and Grounds agenda getting longer and longer,” Robert Acuff said.

The committee is part of a block of four committees: Buildings and Grounds, Law Enforcement, Health and Welfare and Rules and Bylaws. For the past year, Law Enforcement barely had agendas to speak of, but now the Tuesday evenings run close to four hours apiece on a consistent basis as both Rules and Bylaws and Law Enforcement have lengthened agendas.

Hill also suggested putting the Law Enforcement committee meetings at the Sheriff’s Department, for Dexter Lunceford to be better able to attend said meetings.

Austin Jaynes suggested splitting the meetings into one for Buildings and Grounds and Rules and Bylaws and one meeting for Law Enforcement and Health and Welfare, but ultimately the committee tabled the discussion for next month.

Parish also spoke about the records management system for the Sheriff’s Office, as the current system is set to shut down by the end of next year.

He said the Elizabethton Police Department also uses it, so they have begun a “collaborative effort” to seek alternatives.

Edward Jordan and Mike McDonald from Keep Carter County Beautiful came to the committee to discuss tighter enforcement of litter codes, particularly along the highways.

“We need your help,” Jordan said.

He pointed to hypothetical scenarios in which they find a bag of trash on the roadside, and someone finds a name in the bag. While Jordan said he knows they cannot take that evidence to court, he hopes it would be enough to potentially convince people who litter to avoid doing it in the future.

“Law enforcement plays a huge part in this,” Jordan said.