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How West Tennessee Law Enforcement changed due to 9/11

Jackson, TN

This Saturday September 11, 2021, marks 20 years since 9/11. Today 39 news spoke with a member of the Tennessee bureau of investigation, and a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office to get some insight on the tragic events that took place this day and how it impacted their departments.

Sheriff Mehr, then special agent for the Tennessee bureau of investigation speaks on how this attack put law enforcement on high alert, John Mehr (former special agent in charge of criminal investigation division for TN bureau of investigation) informed us, “Made us jump ahead and start thinking, what’s next, where are they going, then we started hearing other things that were going on across the country from the pentagon to everything else. It wasn’t long before the U.S. Attorney’s Office was calling and saying we’ve got to pull everyone in law enforcement in west TN together.”

While in most states bringing the local and federal law enforcement together was something new. This had been a practice West Tennessee was already in the habit of due to a domestic attack in earlier years. Fred Godwin (former Prosecutor for US Attorney’s Office, western district of Tennessee) informed us, “Tim McVay in the Oklahoma City bombing that was the genesis of us starting that. After that bombing, we really weren’t thinking so much about international terrorism, but we had an incident here of domestic terrorism. We said we need to be ready to get together because there was all sorts of communication issues when these events happen.”

After 9/11 Godwin recalls one of the biggest differences he saw. Fred Godwin stated, “Incidents like this just change the way you do things. Security just became much more important.”

While America is a huge country this day in our history reminded us how attached we are. Even though Mehr was thousands of miles away he had a personal connection to someone who died due to the attack. John Mehr shared, “one of my roommates from the FBI, actually ended up having some problems after the attack. He was actually on the transit authority in New York. He ended up having some issues after that, and passed away. There were others that I have known that were there that day. To hear the stories that they are going through- because they were there that day, on the frontlines.”

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