Newsbrief: Tennessee Towns Fire Police Forces, Cite Too Much Attention to Meth Labs 9/6/02

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Local police forces in the small central Tennessee towns of Gruetli-Laager and Palmer, both in Grundy County, have been given the boot in what appears to be an example of law enforcement providing more policing than the community wanted. In separate mid-August votes, the two small towns voted to fire their police departments, saying town police were ignoring local offenses to chase down meth labs in surrounding areas.

"We weren't paying them to go out of the county and bust meth labs," Greutli-Laager Mayor Donna Rollins told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "We pay them to take care of the city."

Other aldermen mentioned complaints of police harassment and the cost of maintaining a police force. But Alderman Wayne Grimes, the sole vote against firing Gruetli-Laager's four-man force, said police stepped on too many local toes when they busted 67 meth labs during the first seven months of the year. "I just feel like maybe they were doing their job too good," he told the Oak Ridger. Grimes also cited police crackdowns on beer sales to minors, which angered local businessmen and relatives and friends of those arrested. "To me it was a political deal. They thought hopefully if they got rid of the police department, they would drop the charges."

Gruetli-Laager alderman Jim Layne was among those who voted to fire the police. He was arrested for possession of a controlled substance three days before the vote. Layne had no comment on his motives in voting for the move.

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