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Tennessee drill disrupts county meeting

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Aug 4, 2004

Tenn. Official Suspended After Mock Terror Drill Disrupts County Meeting
The Associated Press

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (AP) - An official who staged a security drill that disrupted a county commission meeting with guns and mock hostage-takers has been suspended.
Ernest Jackson, Carter County's emergency management director, will be off the job until the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation finishes its probe of Monday's drill, which upset officials, law enforcement and members of the public, Carter County Mayor Dale Fair said.

Jackson was suspended with pay Tuesday, Fair said.

The meeting was about to take up two tax proposals when three men and a woman burst in with guns drawn and claimed to be taking hostages. One man threatened to explode a bomb with a device he was holding, and another fired a shot, which turned out to be a blank.

As the meeting dissolved in confusion, Jackson announced it was only a drill.

Some officials were told about the drill shortly before the meeting but didn't know the details. The city police didn't know a drill was planned and responded to what they thought was a hostage situation.

Renee Bowers, who will take over while Jackson is suspended, said her agency had been trying to make disaster drills more realistic.

AP-ES-08-04-04 1852EDT

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