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SHERIFF: Proper county safety procedures in place

Despite a confused response to a bomb scare in the downtown courthouse last fall, Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal assured Public Safety Committee members proper procedures are in place to address crisis situations.
Graybeal and Bob McNeill, director of the Washington County Emergency Communications District, reviewed security measures in the downtown courthouse during the Jan. 8 meeting.
According to Graybeal, evacuation plans were part of the requirements in the WCSO reaccreditation process. “They are already written and approved, with specific information on who is in charge and detailed procedures to follow,” he said.
The procedures apply to county buildings, schools and even private homes in the event of a bomb threat, hostage situation or other dangerous circumstance.
McNeill referred to the Nov. 5 alert from a caller who overheard a discussion of a bomb being placed in the downtown courthouse.
“I’ve already spoken with the sheriff. The call should not have gone to Jonesborough, it was a mistake,” he said.
Before determining the threat was not valid, officers responded to the George P. Jaynes Justice Center and the courthouse in downtown Jonesborough. Several employees expressed frustration in the lack of information provided to them during the event.
“I think one of the biggest mix-ups was the terminology on courthouse and justice center,” Graybeal said.
County Attorney John Rambo said the implementation of a new county telephone system will offer additional security options such as a public address mechanism to provide instructions for immediate action.