Bethel University students booked for parking violations

McKENZIE, Tenn. — Preston Henderson is a student at Bethel University. Two weeks ago, he was cited by McKenzie police for parking in a handicap spot on campus. What he thought was a simple fine turned into a trip to jail.

“We were just filling out all kinds of health regulations, jail regulations, and everything I signed said ‘inmate signature’ so I was really starting to get scared at that point,” Henderson said.

Henderson is one of 13 Bethel students cited for parking illegally, but not everyone had to be booked into the jail.

Fellow Bethel student Malcolm Williams claims they followed a different procedure for his violation.

“They issued me a ticket, but I didn’t get booked in how they got booked in when they went to jail their first time,” Williams said.

The McKenzie Police Department says the change happened after a request from the sheriff’s office.

“Several months ago, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department had asked that we follow their protocol, which they’d been following for several years,” said Assistant Chief of Police Rick Sawyers.

“…it’s actually state law that anyone cited in the court for a class A misdemeanor or even a class B misdemeanor. They’re supposed to report to jail within 10 days for booking procedure,” Sawyers said in part.

Sawyers says the discrepancy in booking was a miscommunication.

“Most of them were actually asked to be booked in the jail. Some were not; there was some confusion among our officers and the jail personnel,” Sawyers said.

The students who were cited for parking illegally are now fighting to get the misdemeanor off their record.

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