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One Of Those Responsible For Bringing 911 To Putnam Stepping Down

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
One Of Those Responsible For Bringing 911 To Putnam Stepping Down

One of the men responsible for bringing 911 to Putnam County said it’s simply time to retire.

Jerry Abston is a 30-year Putnam law enforcement veteran. He is closing out his career of public service by stepping away from the county’s 911 Board. Abston said while advocating to bring 911 into Putnam in the 1980s, he started a poster campaign to sell the idea.

“Back in the old days you call the sheriff’s office, you call the police department, or you call Tennessee Highway Patrol,” Abston said. “We were trying to get it to where one phone call was an emergency. You could consolidate it and make things a lot easier to speed up response time in the county, and we were successful in doing it.”

Abston said the first step in bringing 911 to Putnam was convincing citizens of the idea, which was an easy sell. Abston said the challenge was selling the ‘money people’ at the county commissioners and city offices, which happened as stable funds were set.

“When 911 was working and everything was working good we were able to get legislation passed to where they would tax a little bit on your phone bill every month to help pay for 911,” Abston said.

Though the 911 operation needed work upon launch, Abston said he believes Putnam to be one of the best systems in Upper Cumberland.

Abston said he was county Sheriff for 28 years. Abston said afterward he was the Tennessee Corrections Institute Director for 38 years and then served on the 911 board for 15 years. Abston said Putnam’s been good to him during his career in public service, and it was just time for him to retire.

“I’ll soon be 79 years old and I like to play golf,” Abston said. “And I’m just going to relax and take life easy and play a little golf every time I get a chance.


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