Police

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MISSION STATEMENT

"To make Athens a safe and comfortable place to live, work, and raise a family."


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Does APD operate their own Dispatch Center?
 The Athens Police Department does not operate their own dispatch center.  All dispatch services are provided by McMinn County  911.  This organization is located at a separate location from the Police Department and provides services in exchange for payment set forth in a contract.  Dispatch is also not controlled by the police department; they are governed by a board whose members are appointed by the McMinn County Mayor.  If you call the Athens Police Department to report a crime, the person who answers the phone will likely have to connect you with the Dispatch Center in order to ensure that your request can be relayed to officers in the field.  

Why does Athens have a Police Department and a Sheriff's Office?

Most states (including Tennessee) divide themselves into counties.  They do this because the state government knows it can’t run everything from Nashville.  Counties are the “arm of the state”.  Each county is required by the state to fulfill certain necessary functions.  They have to run a courthouse,  maintain records, collect taxes, prosecute violations of state law, house prisoners in a jail, provide basic roads and bridges, record deeds, and other basic government functions.

When a certain area of the county becomes especially populated, the people in that area sometimes decide they want extra services, in addition to what the county is providing them.  That’s when a city gets formed.  Cities provide services above and beyond what the county provides.  These services may include more sidewalks, more parks, better streetlights, and sometimes extra law enforcement patrol.

That’s what a Police Department is typically for.  The McMinn County Sheriff’s Office is an agency required to exist as part of the system set up by the state, and they perform a wide range of functions.  Although some of their manpower is dedicated to patrolling the streets of McMinn County, they also have to run the jail, transport prisoners, and perform various judicial functions like serving court papers.

In addition to doing all of the above functions, the dedicated Deputies at the MCSO have a vast area of land to patrol (over 400 square miles).  At some point, the citizens of Athens decided they wanted more law enforcement coverage in their particular part of the county (which is now only about 15 square miles of that massive county).  That’s why the Athens Police Department exists.

The Sheriff’s Office does have jurisdiction in Athens and their duties sometimes overlap with those of the Police Department.  However, these two agencies have very different functions and are not simply copies of one another.

Questions About Parking

Check Out Our Downtown Parking Regulations.
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Are You Being Pulled Over?
What To Do When An Officer Pulls You Over.
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Are You Street Legal?
Check And See Before You Get Pulled Over.
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Child Safety
The Athens Police Department Supports Efforts To Keep Your Children Safe. Check Out The Polly Klaas Foundation For More Information
Learn More

Our Town

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Service Area: 13.9 Square Miles Service
Population: 13,489 per 2012 census

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