Clinton law enforcement had only days to prepare for presidential visit

CLINTON (WATE) – Law enforcement in Clinton, a town with less than 10,000 people, were able to get ready for a presidential visit in less than five days. More than 100 employees from Clinton and Anderson County alone were assigned to help keep the president safe.

More coverage: Presidential Visit

Leading up to a presidential visit, the White House keeps most of the details confidential. Clinton Police Chief Rick Scarborough says that means even law enforcement doesn’t get much of a heads up.

“My first phone call came at halftime of the Tennessee/Iowa football game,” said Chief Scarborough.

Chief Rick Scarbrough
Chief Rick Scarborough

From that point on, it was all hands on deck for the biggest law enforcement operation the tiny town of Clinton has ever seen.

Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mark Lucas says this visit was different than a lot of other presidential visits across the country because of how far the president and vice president traveled.

”One of the things about this is it spanned three counties with site visits. Three sites. You had the air base, Pellissippi State and here. So it was about as multi-jurisdictional in multiple disciplines, you know law enforcement, fire, EMS as you can get,” said Chief Deputy Lucas.

When it came to knowing what to do to keep President Obama and Vice President Biden safe, Chief Scarborough says the Secret Service already had a plan ready to go.

“The framework that the Secret Service laid out, you’re just actually filling in a lot of blanks and hope that you have those things to fill in,” he said. “They understand they’re straining your resources, they know what they’re asking for. And they’re very helpful as far as providing guidance necessary for us to be able to carry on the exercise.”

Even though the visit stretched the city and county’s law enforcement to the max, Chief Scarborough says the training from it was worth it and will translate to future operations.

“It’s kind of like taking that final at the end of the term in college and it’s a good kind of stress to see how well you do and I think we did very well,” said Chief Scarborough.

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