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Press Release

HCSO Arrest Man Impersonating a Firefighter at Crash Scene


Hamilton County, TN - After viewing the Facebook post on a local news source's Facebook page, several comments were noted from the public concerning the arrest of Paul Herrell, Jr. Many of the comments expressed disappointment that he was arrested by HCSO deputies for trying to direct traffic. It is the intent of the HCSO to offer the information below in order to describe the events in detail so as to assure the public the reasoning for his arrest.

On January 14, 2016 at 6:15 pm, HCSO Traffic Investigators were dispatched to a traffic crash involving a stolen vehicle near the 8900 block of Highway 58. Upon arrival, Traffic Investigators were approached by Highway 58 Fire Department personnel who stated the man directing traffic at the traffic crash, Paul Herrell, Jr., was not a fire fighter and was impersonating one in official capacity. It was noted by fire officials that upon arriving on scene, Herrell stated he was a member of Tri-Community Fire Department.

Highway 58 Fire Personnel stated that Herrell had been employed by the Highway 58 Fire Department for approximately 3 months until it was found he had a criminal history (felony convictions) at which time his duties were terminated. It was determined after speaking to the Chiefs' of both the Highway 58 Fire Department and Tri-Community Fire Department Herrell was not a member of either department. Deputies were informed Herrell had been observed several times showing up to incidents by fire officials trying to act in an official capacity.

Traffic Deputies questioned Herrell at which time he confirmed he had never attended a fire academy and was not a certified firefighter or volunteer firefighter. Herrell further confirmed that he was not a member of the Highway 58 Fire Department.

Upon observing Herrell's vehicle, it was found to have an installed light bar activated with flashing red and yellow lights as well as strobe lights in the tail lamps and yellow lights in the windshield. The vehicle also contained a siren and PA system. Herrell consented to a search of his vehicle at which time deputies found a Highway 58 Fire Department hat on the dash and switches inside the vehicle to operate the lights and siren.

When asked what was the purpose of the emergency lights and equipment, Herrell could not give an answer. At that time, Herrell was brought into custody for impersonation of a licensed professional, Criminal Impersonation, and Lights required on Motor vehicle violation.

Herrell was booked at the Hamilton County Jail shortly after.

Hamilton County is served by numerous First Responders and volunteer agencies and the HCSO would like to commend those who voluntarily serve our County, particularly in this case, our volunteer firefighters.

Volunteer Firefighters, along with other First Responders, undergo certified fire and medical training so that they are able to respond quickly to our community’s needs in a safe and efficient manner. The HCSO is proud of the relationships it has made with local volunteer fire personnel and acknowledges

the service they provide.

It is important to note that it is against the law to impersonate emergency services personnel and First Responders. Only certified fire, police, and EMS agencies and personnel are allowed to utilize red emergency lights in government vehicles such as rescue trucks, fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances.

No further information or comment from the HCSO is available at this time.

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Phone: (423) 209-7000