By Charlotte Underwood
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – The LaFollette Police Special Response Team (SRT) received a prestigious award of recognition from the Tennessee Highway Safety Office on Wednesday afternoon.
The Partner of the Year award was presented to the LaFollette SRT team for its efforts in executing narcotics search warrants in the community which resulted in multiple arrests and indictments.
LaFollette Police Chief Bill Roehl had nominated his team of officers for the award.
Steve Dillard who is the Law Enforcement Liaison with the East Tennessee Region of the Highway Safety Office came to LaFollette to present the SRT officers with the award.
“You have a heck of a police department and you have a heck of a SRT team,” Dillard said while addressing officers, Mayor Mike Stanfield and several council members.
“This award is a chance for us to give back and recognize this team. These officers are dealing with drug issues and dangerous things that can hurt the community. These officers are here to help the people,” Dillard said.
The team consists of Steve Wallen, Matt Forsyth, Noah Riggs, Homer Herrell, Shane Tielman, Aaron Adkins, Charles Duff and K-9 officer Diesel. The team is led by Duff.
“I’m so proud of these people. They put their lives on the line every time they go out in this community. They do everything in their power to impact and improve the issue of drugs in the community,” Roehl said.
During the time of the reporting threshold, the SRT team was responsible for conducting 15 search warrants for narcotics within the community. This resulted in four cars being seized, $8,000 in currency being seized, 10 physical arrests made and 14 indictments being presented. Many of the search warrants were initiated by traffic stops, which led to investigation and allowed LPD drug officers to develop informants and solicit buys from local dealers. These buys ultimately led to the raids conducted by the SRT team.
“This resulted in numerous drug and drug paraphernalia being removed from our local streets,” Roehl said. Campbell County is high on the nation’s opioid problem list and the SRT team is trying to combat that and is attaining “positive results.”
According to Roehl, this is only part of what the SRT team does. They train weekly and are called out on barricaded subject and hostage rescues. The team assisted with the rescue of those isolated inside their homes during the flooding in LaFollette.
“The importance of such a team is instrumental for the betterment of a community,” Roehl said.
Lt. James Lynch also received the Speed Award in recognition of his outstanding performance in writing traffic citations. Lynch has been with the department since 1987, and this is the second time he has received this award from the state. According to Roehl, in the past calendar year, Lynch has written numerous traffic citations, with 58 of those being speeding citations, 34 for excessive speeding. Lynch also served as the training officer for the LPD. Lynch was unable to attend the award ceremony and Roehl accepted the award on his behalf. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 01/07/2021-6AM)