Sheriff’s K-9 unit receive ballistic vest donation

Community, Press Release
ballistic vest ceremony

MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE – The Blount County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit received the donation of a ballistic K-9 vest. Rhonda Harrill, a community volunteer, coordinated with Bulletproof-It Body Armor, LLC to donate one vest to the Sheriff’s K-9 team.

“We are humbled that Ms. Harrill chose the Sheriff’s Office as the recipient of the K-9 vest,” Sheriff James Lee Berrong said. “Our K-9s are just as vulnerable, if not more so, than our deputies in life threatening situations. Ballistic vests save the lives of our human and K-9 deputies. I want to thank Ms. Harrill and Bulletproof-It Body Armor for this donation. The vest donation as well as their support means a lot to all of us.”

Ms. Harrill also brought cupcakes and dog treats for our human and K-9 deputies. Over the years, Rhonda Harrill has also donated several AEDs (automatic external defibrillators) to the Sheriff’s Office. We are thankful for her friendship and backing!

District 20 Representative Bob Ramsey and Ms. Rhonda Harrill take a moment with the service dogs.

Sheriff’s office investigating human remains

News
human remains
MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE – Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong said the Sheriff’s Office is investigating human remains that were found on private property late last week.
The remains were taken to Knox County Regional Forensic Center for analysis and positive identification. The remains, which appear to be of an adult male, were located on private property in the area of Mel Hall Road on September 3. Investigators and forensics experts believe the body has been buried for several years. The Sheriff’s Office took no missing person’s reports that coincide with the time period in which forensics experts believe the male was buried.
Experts with the Knox County Regional Forensic Center assisted investigators with the removal of the remains.
Investigators are asking for the public’s help with information that might lead to the identity of the male, and/or any other details that will determine what happened to him. If anyone has any information, please call Investigations during normal business hours at 865-273-5001. Individuals may also leave a message on the 24 hour anonymous Crime Hotline at 865-273-5200, or leave a tip on the Text-a-Tip link at www.bcso.com link Public Information.
Additional information will be released as it becomes available.

Deputies assist with Hurricane Laura relief

News
Hurricane Laura
MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE – On August 27, Hurricane Laura made a direct hit on Lake Charles, Louisiana as a Category 4 storm, wreaking havoc and causing major destruction in Calcasieu Parish as well as other areas of South Louisiana. Two Blount County deputies answered the call to assist with the relief effort.
For one of our deputies, it was personal. Cpl. Darin Gallow was born and raised in Lake Charles and he still has several family members, including his mother, who call Lake Charles home. A fellow Blount County deputy, Jason Murphy, also heeded the call to help. On September 1, the two deputies loaded up a trailer with items donated by fellow deputies, churches, and private citizens and made the trip south, spending several days assisting the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office with the clean-up and relief efforts.
“It was heartbreaking to see my family and my hometown trying to go on with life in the midst of the devastation,” Cpl. Gallow said. “We didn’t want to leave without fixing everything, but we had to come home to Tennessee and our families and jobs.”
As of today, clean-up efforts continue, and will continue for quite a while. It’s been two weeks since Hurricane Laura made landfall, and most of the area is still without electricity and non-potable water.
Sheriff James Lee Berrong is asking citizens to keep the victims of Hurricane Laura in your thoughts and prayers as they try to move on amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and other life’s challenges.
Images courtesy of Blount County Sheriff Office.

Deputies enter into high-speed chase with stolen vehicle

News
stolen vehicle
MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE – Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong said that at approximately 10 p.m. Thursday, a Sheriff’s deputy identified a white Toyota Camry traveling Washington Street near Jones Avenue. The same vehicle and registration was reported stolen out of Rhea County, Tennessee. The stolen vehicle continued traveling onto Sevierville Road, heading north out of town. The deputy initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle, but the driver of the vehicle refused to stop and continued to travel out of town at a high rate of speed and in a reckless manner. The driver turned into Twin Oaks Estates and traveled to the dead end. The deputy again attempted to stop the vehicle using a pursuit intervention technique, but the driver escaped by cutting through a yard and drove back onto Sevierville Road, traveling in the opposite lane of travel at a high rate of speed. As the driver of the stolen vehicle approached the intersection of Sevierville Road and Nina Delozier Road, he lost control of the vehicle and struck a pick-up truck driven by a female, headed south toward Maryville.
The female victim, age 21, who was struck by the driver of the stolen vehicle was taken by AMR Ambulance Service to University of Tennessee Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.
The driver of the stolen vehicle, 20, and a male passenger, 15, died as a result of the crash. Another male passenger, 19, was taken by AMR Ambulance Service to University of Tennessee Medical Center where he is receiving treatment for his injuries.
Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating the accident.
Earlier this week, officers with Maryville Police Department attempted to stop the stolen Toyota Camry, but the driver eluded police.
The pursuant investigation following Thursday’s accident by the Sheriff’s Office revealed the 20-year-old driver had an extensive criminal history, including multiple extraditable warrants out of Missouri, and the 19-year old survivor has a criminal history that includes aggravated assault and second-degree murder from another jurisdiction.
The Sheriff’s Office investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Knoxville man victim of fatal car crash in Blount County

News, Press Release
car crash
MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE – Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong is sad to announce a Knoxville man was killed in a fatal car crash in Blount County Tuesday evening.
Aaron M. Christopher, 18, of Martin Mill Pike, Knoxville, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. A passenger in the vehicle, Gabriel A. Sisson, 17, of Rhea Road, Knoxville, was flown by Life Star to the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Sisson is listed in stable condition.
Deputies responded to the crash that occurred on Old Walland Highway near Melrose Station Road at 7:45 p.m. Aaron Christopher, the driver, was traveling northwest on Old Walland Highway in a 2002 Ford Explorer. As he crested a small hill that curved left, Aaron Christopher lost control of his vehicle. The vehicle left the roadway on the right side. Christopher overcorrected and the vehicle slid across the road, leaving the roadway on the left side. The vehicle struck a standing tree with the left side of the vehicle causing the vehicle to overturn and come to a rest on its top. Aaron Christopher was partially ejected, and the passenger, Gabriel Sisson was completely ejected from the vehicle through the windshield. Neither Aaron Christopher nor Gabriel Sisson were wearing seatbelts.
The Sheriff’s Office Traffic Safety Unit is continuing its investigation into the car crash.
Sheriff Berrong would like to extend his condolences to the family of Aaron Christopher for the loss of their loved one and wishes for a speedy recovery to Gabriel Sisson.

Louisville man charged in connection to death of infant son

News, Press Release
Louisville
MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE – Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong said an 18-year-old Louisville man was charged Thursday in the death of his infant son.
Corey Ryan Dillow, 18, Red Hill Drive, Louisville, is in custody in the Blount County Correctional Facility. Dillow is charged with criminal homicide and aggravated child abuse. He is being held on bonds totaling $1,250,000 pending a hearing in Blount County General Sessions Court at 1:30 p.m. July 6, 2020.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to Dillow’s residence on Red Hill Drive in Louisville Wednesday where they found the infant unresponsive. Deputies attempted CPR on the infant before AMR Ambulance Service arrived and transported
him to Children’s Hospital in Knoxville where he was pronounced dead.
Investigators are continuing their inquiry into the case. The image is courtesy of BCSO Facebook. 

Sheriff’s Office awards several commendations

Community, Press Release
commendations
MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE – Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong is proud to announce the Sheriff’s Office awarded three commendations to two deserving law enforcement officers and one heroic former law enforcement officer. The three commendations were awarded during a short ceremony at the Blount County Justice Center this morning.
Deputy Chief Jeff French awarded a Lifesaving Commendation to Blount County Sheriff’s Deputy Devan Teaster. On July 5, Deputy Teaster saved the life of Eric Spears following a car accident. Deputy Teaster saw that Spears’ arm was seriously injured. A few days prior, Deputy Teaster received TECC (Tactical Emergency Casualty Care) training and learned how to properly administer a tourniquet. Deputy Teaster saw that Mr. Spears’ arm was bleeding profusely and knew the bleeding had to be stopped. Deputy Teaster acted on his training and applied a tourniquet to Mr. Spears’ arms, stopping the bleeding. Though Mr. Spears’ ultimately lost his arm due to the severity of the injury, surgeons stated that Deputy Teasters’ quick and proper emergency care saved Mr. Spears’ life. Deputy Teaster has been employed with the Sheriff’s Office since 2015 is a School Resource Officer.

The family of Eric Spears, who was seriously injured in a car accident on July 5, were present this morning to thank Deputy Devan Teaster for saving the life of Eric Spears.

Sheriff Berrong also awarded a Law Enforcement Commendation and a Citizen Service Award to University of Tennessee Police Department Asst. Chief Sean Patterson and his wife Anaida Patterson, respectively. On June 28, the Patterson’s were visiting Blount County and traveling U.S. Highway 321 West near the Big Springs Road exit when they came upon a vehicle pulled to the side of the road and saw frantic activity within the vehicle. Asst. Chief Patterson and Anaida Patterson, who are both retired law enforcement officers from New York Police Department, knew something was wrong based on their training and experience. The Pattersons turned around and saw the baby’s mother outside the car holding an unconscious infant boy. The baby, Joseph, was choking on a piece of food.
The Pattersons immediately took control of the situation, and using their training and rendered first aid by delivering back blows which dislodged the food. Baby Joseph began breathing again, regained consciousness, and suffered no lasting effects from the incident.
Several co-workers, friends, and family members of the law enforcement officers and the grateful victims were in attendance at the ceremony.
The Sheriff’s Lifesaving Award is conferred upon a sworn or civilian employee who is directly responsible for saving a life.

Asst. Chief Patterson and his wife Anaida Patterson (pictured center) saved the life of Baby Joseph on June 28.

The Citizen Service Award may be conferred on any citizen who is not an employee of the Sheriff’s Office, and the act or achievement must be directly related to the overall law enforcement objectives of the Sheriff’s Office that may include extraordinary heroism or unselfish devotion to a fellow human being, or meritorious achievement in the performance of civic responsibility.
The Law Enforcement Commendation is awarded to a law enforcement officer from another agency who brings credit to themselves, their agency, and the Blount County Sheriff’s Office for an exceptional act clearly resulting in the saving of a life, or performing an act of valor that aids someone who is clearly in need, and who goes above and beyond for an individual, while the law enforcement officer is on or off duty and within the jurisdiction of Blount County.
The sheriff’s office recently awarded several other officers for their life-saving efforts, read about it here.

Deputies recognized for their lifesaving efforts

Community
lifesaving efforts
MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE – Several sheriff’s deputies were recognized for their lifesaving efforts and other deputies as employees of the month recently.
Deputy Rex Ogle received the honor of March Employee of the Month for intervening in a plot in March involving an unreported armed robbery that led to a group of individuals planning to do harm to the would-be robber. While on patrol on March 19, Deputy Ogle saw a vehicle with several people acting suspiciously and driving erratically. During the traffic stop, Deputy Ogle discovered a loaded weapon and a significant amount of cash, methamphetamine, and marijuana. He learned that one of the passengers had tossed another weapon from the vehicle and that the driver was being forced to drive to a secluded area and that the occupants were planning to harm the driver. Because of his proactive and reactive enforcement efforts, Deputy Ogle likely saved the driver from serious harm, and possibly saved his life. Deputy Ogle began his career at the Sheriff’s Office in January 2017 and serves as a patrolman.
Deputy Khalil Whitehead was awarded our April Employee of the Month for intercepting two burglary bandits during the overnight hours on March 31. While on patrol on Carpenters Grade road, Deputy Whitehead saw a vehicle pulling a utility trailer with two lawnmowers that were not tied down. Due to his training and experience, Deputy Whitehead believed the lawnmowers could be stolen. He attempted a traffic stop on the vehicle, but the driver accelerated into a neighborhood and drove through several yards before stopping at a retention pond. Both individuals in the vehicle fled on foot. Deputy Whitehead immediately caught one of the suspects. During his investigation, Deputy Whitehead found that the suspects had stolen the trailer, a riding lawn mower, and a push mower from three locations. He was able to return the stolen items to the owners, and the suspect was arrested on multiple charges. Deputy Whitehead began his career with BCSO in January 2018 and attended Class 017 of the Sheriff’s Regional Law Enforcement Training Academy. He is assigned to patrol.
Cpl. Chris Carter received the honor as our June Employee of the Month for talking an armed man out of committing suicide. The incident occurred on June 17. He and other deputies responded to the call of a man who was threatening suicide. Cpl. Carter was the first to arrive on scene and he encountered a man armed with a pistol on the front porch of the residence. The man stood up and refused to put down the pistol or comply as he walked into the backyard. Cpl. Carter remained calm and continued to try to get the man to relinquish the gun while talking o him empathetically and encouraging him that the situation was going to be alright. Cpl. Carter placed himself in harm’s way in proximity to the man so that he could hear him and continue to talk to him directly in an effort to peacefully resolve the situation. The circumstances, the man’s actions, including having both hands on the pistol, and action versus reaction principles could have easily ended badly. Fortunately, the man finally complied after 30 minutes and released the gun. The man was taken for an emergency mental health evaluation. Cpl. Carter has been employed with the Sheriff’s Office since 2014, and was promoted to corporal in 2016. Cpl. Carter serves with the patrol unit.
The Sheriff’s Office also awarded two Lifesaving Awards and a Citizen Service Award. Deputy Patrolman Kendyhl Rodgers was awarded a Lifesaving Award for helping to save the life of a man who was trapped inside a vehicle that had become submerged upside down in the water on the night of April 21. Deputy Rodgers, along with a citizen, Mr. Scott Snipp, entered the water and freed the victim. Their actions likely saved the victim’s life. Mr. Scott Snipp also received the Sheriff’s Citizen Service Award for his actions. Deputy Rodgers began his employment with the Sheriff’s Office in 2017, and is assigned to patrol.
lifesaving efforts
Our other recipient of the Sheriff’s Lifesaving Award is Deputy Patrolman Tim Pace. On April 22, Deputy Pace assisted Maryville Police Department on a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Tuckaleechee Pike and East Lamar Alexander Parkway. Deputy Pace and Maryville Police Department Cpl. Elizabeth Riffle performed CPR on the victim until Maryville Fire Department and AMR Ambulance Service arrived. A paramedic with Maryville Fire Department said “The early actions taken by Deputy Pace and Cpl. Riffle likely facilitated a successful medical response providing critical, life-sustaining oxygenated blood throughout his cardiac system.” Had Deputy Pace and
Cpl. Riffle not intervened, it is likely the man’s prognosis would have been drastically different. Deputy Pace has been employed with the Sheriff’s Office since 2016 and is assigned to patrol.
livesaving efforts
Sheriff James Lee Berrong is proud of each of these deputies and of Mr. Scott Snipp for going above and beyond!
Images courtesy of BCSO.

Phone scammer posing as a BCSO officer

News, Press Release
scammer
MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE – Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong is asking the public to beware of another phone scammer who is posing as a Sheriff’s deputy and harassing citizens with phony phone calls.
The Sheriff’s Office became aware of the phone scam today. The individual claims to be Sgt. McAlister of the Blount County Sheriff’s Office. The originating phone number is ringing in as the Blount County Sheriff’s Office mainline, (865)273-5000, but the call is NOT coming from the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, and the caller is “spoofing” that number. The Blount County Sheriff’s Office also does not employ anyone by the name of Sgt. McAlister. When the scammer leaves a phone message, he is asking for a return call at (865)344-0059.
Please do not become a victim of this criminal activity. If you receive a call from the BCSO mainline and the caller claims to be Sgt. McAlister of the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, hang up.
No employee of the BCSO will EVER call an individual to tell them they have unpaid fines, or that they will be arrested because they missed jury duty. We will NOT call an individual and tell them they have an outstanding warrant for their arrest and that they must pay the fine or they will be arrested.
Deputies with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office routinely call citizens regarding Sheriff’s Office business, but it will never be to ask for money. If you ever suspect you are being scammed, you can call (865)273-5000 to verify that the individual is employed with the BCSO.
Please share this information with your family and friends.

Sheriff Berrong addresses use of force policy

Community, News
use of force Berrong

MARYVILLE, TENN. – Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong issued a statement concerning the office’s use of force and social justice. See the entire statement below.

“I’d like to begin by saying that in my years as serving as Sheriff of Blount County, I could not be more proud of our deputies and their professionalism. Over the past couple of weeks, I have received a few inquiries regarding our use of force policy and social justice. For those of you who have lived and worked in Blount County for any length of time, you know that the Blount County Sheriff’s Office is a proactive law enforcement agency in regard to community policing, and our policies and general orders align with that. Our deputies firmly believe in our mission statement which highlights “working with the community and building trust, reducing crime, creating a safe environment, and enhancing the quality of life” for Blount County citizens and our visitors. For us, these are not just words on paper. It is what we believe, and it is what we insist that our deputies abide by in their work and personal lives.

Though spelling out our use of force policy would be lengthy for the purposes of this letter, I will say that all of the initiatives being encouraged by a particular nationwide campaign are already in policy at the Blount County Sheriff’s Office. One of the highlights of that campaign asks for law enforcement agencies to require de-escalation. All of our patrol deputies receive certification for Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), which is part of the Fair and Just Policing model that our deputies receive training in each year. CIT is a first-responder model of police-based crisis intervention training to help persons with mental disorders and/or addictions to access medical treatment rather than place them in the criminal justice system due to illness-related behaviors. It also promotes officer safety and the safety of the individuals in crisis.

The BCSO is also internationally accredited through CALEA, (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies). We received our first accreditation in 2003, and every three years we go through the re-accreditation process. In 2015 and 2018, CALEA awarded the Sheriff’s Office the Gold Standard of Excellence, which is reserved for agencies which have gone through multiple re-accreditations and have not had any compliance issues in the most recent assessment. CALEA assessors spend more time working with and reviewing law enforcement officers in the field, and less time reviewing files. What does this mean for the citizens of Blount County? It means citizens are receiving the best possible law enforcement services that your tax dollars can buy. It means our deputies are receiving the best, most up-to-date, and professional training that will provide you, our citizens, with the best law enforcement services possible.

The sanctity of life is foundational to what we do, and as Sheriff, I hold accountable every person who works for me in our community. If you are interested in reviewing our Use of Force policy, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to send you our policy. The BCSO also aggressively recruits prospective candidates for employment. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer. There is no better way to make positive changes in this profession than to join us and be part of serving your community. If you are interested in applying for a career with our agency, we encourage you to apply at bcso.com, click on the Employment tab.

The Blount County Sheriff’s Office remains committed to serving the people of the county constitutionally, fairly, and equitably.”

Sheriff says goodbye to three retiring deputies

Community
retiring deputies
MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE – Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong and the deputies of the Blount County Sheriff’s Office are saying goodbye to three long-time deputies who are retiring or scheduled for retirement in the next few weeks.
The Sheriff’s Office honored and thanked Deputies John Douglas, P.K. Gregory, and Kim “Boo Boo” Roach at a lunchtime event today. Sheriff Berrong presented each deputy with an inscribed memory box and a State of Tennessee flag flown over the state capitol.

L to R: Sheriff Berrong and John Douglas

Deputy P.K. Gregory retired in April after serving the Sheriff’s Office and Blount County for 21 years. During her career at the Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Gregory served as a corrections officer, school resource officer, and most recently in court services.
Deputy John Douglas retired in June. Deputy Douglas served with the Sheriff’s Office for 22 years. He began his career with the Sheriff’s Office in adult corrections and retired after a long tenure in court services.
Deputy Kim “Boo Boo” Roach started her career with the Sheriff’s Office 16 years ago. She spent her career serving as a clerk in jail records and most recently as a clerk in court services.
Sheriff Berrong is grateful for the loyalty and dedication each of these deputies has given.
“We have been blessed with the service and dedication of these three deputies,” Sheriff Berrong said. “Each one of them has dedicated a good portion of their lives serving this agency and this community. I wish them only the best as they begin their well-deserved retirement.” Images of retiring deputies are courtesy of BCSO. PK Gregory pictured in featured image.

L to R: Sheriff Berrong and Kim Roach

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