In This Issue

Excellence in Risk Management Award Winners

Cyber Security

Motor Vehicle Record Checks

Tennessee Trivia

Q. What Tennessee town gets its name from a rock that was struck by a meteor?

Click here for the answer

Message from the President

Dawn Crawford
We would like to thank all who attended Public Entity Partners’ 4th Annual Risk & Insurance Symposium. We experienced record attendance this year, with representation from the highest number of city and/or agency departments ever.

We would also like to thank our speakers, who took time to prepare and present on a wide variety of topics, including:

  • Drug and Alcohol Testing
  • The Open Records Act and How it Applies to Social Media
  • How I Hacked You (In 10 Minutes or Less)
  • Protecting Your Entity from ADA Lawsuits
  • Internal Investigations
  • Cyber Security
  • Active Shooter Preparedness

Six Excellence in Risk Management Awards were presented to recognize the amazing risk mitigation efforts of our members in their communities. You can read detailed information about our award winners in a separate article in this newsletter.

The interaction and response from those who attended the symposium is a testament to the dedication and hard work local government employees invest in their entities. In addition to the structured learning opportunities, there were numerous occasions for networking. For those who were able to attend this year, we hope you enjoyed the enlightening documentary, “All the Queen’s Horses.”

From all of us at PE Partners, thank you for attending this year’s symposium. For those who were not able to participate, we look forward to seeing you at next year’s event, to be held Aug. 19 - 21, 2020!

Best Regards,

Dawn Crawford signature
Dawn R. Crawford


Excellence in Risk Management Award Winners

The Excellence in Risk Management Award honors members of Public Entity Partners who exemplify excellence, innovation, creativity, and commitment to providing quality safety and risk management programs within their entities. This award is designed to recognize entities of all sizes that make use of available resources to creatively implement safety programs. Examples of risk management are found in all operations, from utilizing technology to creating/updating proper documentation and repair orders, or jump starting a safety committee.

The 2019 Excellence in Risk Management Awards were presented during the 4th Annual Risk & Insurance Symposium, held earlier this month. Please join us in congratulating this year’s award winners.

East Tennessee Award Winners
J. Alan Johnson ― Johnson Risk Management
Kimberly Spence — City of Cleveland

Middle Tennessee Award Winners
Shelbyville Safety Committee
Sam Andavazo ― Springfield Gas Department

West Tennessee Award Winners
Chief Doug Acred — City of Lexington
Renee Coughlin ― Southwest Human Resource Authority

J. Alan Johnson
Johnson Risk Management

J. Alan Johnson has dedicated his life to serving those around him, and takes his responsibilities as risk manager and insurance agent very seriously. He possesses an understanding of insurance coverages and their real-world applications that is matched by very few. While he has worked with many governmental and non-governmental clients throughout the years, Alan currently serves as risk manager and agent for the City of Madisonville, Town of Tellico Plains and Monroe County 911. He serves in this capacity by reporting and investigating accidents, initiating training, and making recommendations for written policies to assure safety for employees and the public. He also frequently makes himself available for council meetings to inform and clarify risk management issues.

During his 35-year career, Alan has been able to bring an awareness of risk management to each entity he has served. In addition to the high level of service he provides to Tellico Plains, Madisonville and Monroe County 911, he has worked with Public Entity Partners throughout the years, contributing to articles and consistently challenging us to continue to provide top-notch coverage to our members.

Over the years, Alan has been able to advise the entities he represents on some of the common pitfalls and challenges of contracts with governmental entities. He has been a staunch advocate and cheerleader for implementing loss control recommendations to the members he represents. In addition, Alan has been integral to the introduction of interlocal agreements for inmate labor, as well as the implementation of guidelines for special events, facility use and contract liability in organizations that likely would not have had such a risk management focus.

Pictured above are Dawn Crawford (left), president/CEO for Public Entity Partners; J. Alan Johnson, Johnson Risk Management; Judy Housley, casualty loss control consultant for Public Entity Partners; and Wayne Anderson, member services representative for Public Entity Partners.


Kim Spence
City of Cleveland

To say that Kim Spence has a lot on her plate would be an understatement. However, risk management is at the forefront of her dedication to her role as human resources director/risk manager for the City of Cleveland. She began her journey in public service in 1987, and has held various positions with the city since then, including tax clerk, personnel assistant, assistant to the human resource director, and risk and wellness manager.

In her present role, Kim is responsible for the safety program budget, day-to-day maintenance of a safe work environment and employee safety training. In addition, she serves as chair of the human resources, safety and wellness committees, reviews incidents and works toward their prevention, maintains the drug testing programs, and prepares and implements safety and personnel policies.

Kim serves as the underwriting and claims contact for all lines of coverage with Public Entity Partners, which provides her with responsibility for coverage decisions, limits and deductibles for her entity. The City of Cleveland employs more than 360 full-time and more than 200 part-time individuals.

Kim can be described as a lifelong learner, has completed the Risk Management for Public Entities certificate, and has completed course work towards the Associate in Risk Management. She is also a certified personal trainer, and leads the wellness and exercise program for the city.

One Public Entity Partners member described it perfectly when she said, “You need to have a heart for people in order to do risk management,” and no one embodies this more than Kim Spence.

Pictured above are Dawn Crawford (left), president/CEO for Public Entity Partners; Wayne Anderson, member services representative for Public Entity Partners; Kimberly Spence, director of human resources and risk manager for the City of Cleveland; and Judy Housley, casualty loss control consultant for Public Entity Partners.


Shelbyville Safety Committee

In risk management, teamwork is a vital part of the equation. The Shelbyville Safety Committee has proven that teamwork can create a successful program to mitigate safety incidents.

The Shelbyville Safety Committee has a longstanding history within the organization and utilizes an organized process. Every quarter, the committee evaluates losses, proactively works to prevent future claims, conducts facility inspections, and provides safety training and general risk management recommendations to the city manager. These recommendations include facility changes or updates, and policies or procedures that may need to be modified or implemented.

This proactive approach to safety is not demonstrated by focusing solely on claims and past incidents, but by making recommendations to prevent future claims for the best interest of the city, its employees and the general public. The Shelbyville Safety Committee has also opened their meetings to attendance by other cities in an effort to promote risk management to other organizations.

The current Shelbyville Safety Committee includes:

  • Pam Henry, chair
  • Terry Vinson, vice chair/safety compliance inspector
  • Stacey Claxton, safety director
  • Lisa Smith, safety secretary
  • Ronnie Blankenship
  • Randy Cunningham
  • Julie Haskins
  • Lilia Torrez
  • John Young

Pictured above are Chester Darden (left, front row), casualty loss control consultant with Public Entity Partners; Callie Westerfield, director of member services with Public Entity Partners; Shanna Boyette, city manager for the City of Shelbyville; Pam Henry, chairman of the Shelbyville Safety Committee; Stacey Claxton, safety director for the City of Shelbyville; Bob Lynch, property loss control consultant with Public Entity Partners; and Terry Vinson (second row), vice chair/safety compliance inspector for the City of Shelbyville.


Sam Andavazo
Springfield Gas Department

At Public Entity Partners, we speak extensively about the importance of training your employees and creating a culture of safety. Over the nearly 40 years that we have partnered with Tennessee’s local governments, we have seen firsthand the impact a culture of safety can have on keeping employees safe and in safeguarding public resources. We invest considerable time and resources providing training in person, online, at regional workshops and at our annual symposium. Sam Andavazo, safety and training manager for the Springfield Gas Department, embodies this commitment to creating a culture of safety and providing top-notch training to his organization.

Sam had a vision to host a simulated gas main strike and safety awareness day in Springfield, and worked incredibly hard to make that vision a reality through months of planning. The Simulated Gas Main Strike and Safety Awareness Day held on May 3, 2019, allowed utilities, contractors, public safety employees and the general public to experience the risks of everyday damage to utility lines from employees or third parties digging in the right of way.

More than 230 individuals from across Tennessee came to the Robertson County Fair Grounds for risk management and safety training. Sam partnered with Tennessee 811 to narrate the event, which walked participants through the process of excavating around gas lines. This demonstration included how to properly locate and mark lines, and the best practices for keeping employees safe in these types of events.   

There have only been three events of this type hosted in Tennessee since 2016. Sam executed this event with excellence, raising awareness of the property and casualty exposures associated with not following proper protocol, and providing training on the correct excavation methods.

Pictured above are Chester Darden (left), casualty loss control consultant with Public Entity Partners; Callie Westerfield, director of member services with Public Entity Partners; Sam Andavazo, Springfield Gas Department; Gina Holt, city manager for the City of Springfield; and Bob Lynch, property loss control consultant with Public Entity Partners.


Chief Doug Acred
City of Lexington

When Doug Acred joined the City of Lexington as fire chief and safety director in 2016, he not only did an outstanding job of organizing the fire department, but also took the position of safety director to a new level.

Chief Acred has made safety a priority, not only in the fire department, but among all city departments and their employees. His creation of a safety team helped ensure that a fresh perspective and new ideas for implementation were possible. Through this work, new structural features were added to the city hall to help deter unwanted guests entering administrative workspace. As a result of his efforts, the City of Lexington’s employee safety, liability prevention and property conservation have been significantly improved.

The safety team not only investigates simple incidents, but also “near-miss” incidents to determine the cause so that appropriate actions may be taken to reduce future incidents. This creates an environment of prevention for Lexington instead of reactive responses. In the spirit of prevention, Chief Acred has also implemented training and new employee onboarding programs for the fire and public works departments and city hall.

Chief Acred was one of Public Entity Partners’ PRIMA scholarship award winners and continues to make risk management education a priority.

Pictured above are Paul Chambliss (left), casualty loss control consultant with Public Entity Partners; Doug Acred, Fire Chief and Safety Director for the City of Lexington: Andy Lacewell, property conservation consultant with Public Entity Partners; and Celeste Taylor, member services representative with Public Entity Partners.


Renee Coughlin
Southwest Human Resource Agency

Renee Coughlin’s motto is “Think Safe, Work Safe, Be Safe,” but these are far more than just words to her. Since beginning her role as human resources assistant with the Southwest Human Resource Agency (SWHRA), she has taken these words and worked to incorporate them into the agency’s culture for all employees.

In 2017, she began a leadership role within the Health & Safety Committee. In this position, she has been instrumental in reducing workers’ compensation claims and premiums, and in increasing employee safety awareness. The committee has undertaken an impressive list of projects to improve safety, including drafting safety policies, addressing lighting issues, offering a host of training opportunities for employees ranging from sexual harassment to active shooter awareness, implementing drug testing, installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, issuing mandatory ID badges, and many more.

The meeting minutes not only reflect the discussions that take place, but also the action items that need to be addressed, frequently listing who is responsible for a follow-up item. For risk management efforts to be successful, everyone must be involved. 

Renee’s enthusiasm for risk management and the projects undertaken by SWHRA have resulted in a reduction of the average number of workers’ compensation claims per year by more than 10 reported claims.

Renee is currently planning safety audits for all SWHRA sites, along with updates to safety and security entrances to the SWHRA for enhancing employee security. As she continues to attend risk management training and conferences, SWHRA’s employees can expect more excellence in risk management for years to come.

Pictured above are Celeste Taylor (left), member services representative with Public Entity Partners; Renee Coughlin, human resources assistant with the Southwest Human Resource Authority; Paul Chambliss, casualty loss control consultant with Public Entity Partners; and Andy Lacewell, property conservation consultant with Public Entity Partners.


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Cyber Security

Each day, we are bombarded with report after report of ransomware, phishing campaigns, and incidents where a cybercriminal has taken advantage of a local government, private business or even an individual. In the last two decades, technology and the Internet have become an integral part of the fabric of our lives ― from email and banking to our day-to-day work. 

If you are hit with ransomware or malware:

  • Will your critical functions be able to recover quickly? 
  • Will your phone system work? What about your dispatchers? How will you alert departments that your organization has been impacted?
  • Will you be able to access your banking information? 
  • Will your data backups be easy to restore? How much data will you lose?
  • Are there services that you provide to the general public that will not be able to operate?

One recommendation for developing a plan to deal with a ransomware attack or other data breach is to integrate cyber security into your organization’s objectives and general risk management. Almost all organizations have a reliance on digital services like email, software and digital files. 

According to KnowBe4, a leading cyber security awareness training provider, 90 - 95% of successful cyberattacks are caused by successful phishing attacks. Each day, more than 400 businesses are targeted by spear-phishing attacks, and the projected cost of cybercrime is expected to rise to $6 trillion in the coming years. This is an issue that is not going away. 

With each Privacy & Network Liability and Cyber Extension application we receive at Public Entity Partners, our underwriting department checks to see if your entity has implemented the following measures:

  • A written policy has been developed that defines the sensitive information you collect and hold;
  • Employees are regularly trained on how to identify and protect sensitive/restricted information;
  • Employees are regularly trained on how to recognize and avoid malware emails and the dangers of clicking on links or attachments;
  • Firewalls are maintained, and virus and malware protection are up-to-date on ALL devices (PC’s, servers, tablets, phones, etc.)
  • Data is backed up at least weekly at a location that is isolated from your network; and
  • A policy has been developed regarding the transfer of funds based on an email request.

The goal behind these criteria is to have a clear plan of how to handle a network security breach or cyber-attack before you are faced with an event.

The Cyber Extension to the Public Entity Partners Privacy & Network Liability coverage is designed to provide coverage to members who are impacted by ransomware, social engineering and the resulting data restoration expenses. The first step in obtaining that coverage is to ensure that you are putting sound cyber risk management practices in place to protect your organization.

If you would like to find out more about the Privacy & Network Liability coverage and the Cyber Extension, or to determine if your entity may qualify for coverage, please reach out to the underwriting department.

East Tennessee
Jim Bell Hatchel

Middle Tennessee
Anthony Roman

West Tennessee
Janine Helton

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Motor Vehicle Record Checks

Did you know that automobile accidents are the most common type of litigation filed against local governments? They are also the most common cause of line-of-duty deaths for government employees.

To decrease the likelihood of employees being injured in auto accidents, or of your entity being sued due to a wreck, Public Entity Partners recommends that motor vehicle record (MVR) checks be conducted on all employees who are assigned driving responsibilities.

Ideally, this should be completed as part of the selection process for applicants who will be driving your entity’s vehicles, and every three years thereafter for existing employees with driving assignments and privileges. After conducting MVR checks, any employee with an adverse driving record should be retrained and/or removed from driving your entity’s vehicles or driving a personal vehicle for entity business. If you find an employee with an invalid license, driving privileges should be revoked.

MVR checks can be completed by mailing a request to the Department of Safety or going to a local driver's license station. They can also be accessed through the State of Tennessee’s website. You will need to submit the employee’s name, date of birth and driver's license number. Please keep in mind that the fee charged by the state is slightly higher if you go through their website instead of mailing your request or requesting the MVR check in-person.

Through the James L. Richardson Driver Safety Grant, Public Entity Partners will fully reimburse your entity for MVR checks through the State of Tennessee, up to your grant eligibility amount. Applications for the Driver Safety Grant are being accepted through Sept. 27. Please visit to complete your grant application, and to read all instructions and eligibility requirements.   

If you would like to address your entity’s exposure to vehicle accidents, please reach out to your casualty loss control consultant.

East Tennessee
Judy Housley

Middle Tennessee
Chester Darden

West Tennessee
Paul Chambliss

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Tennessee Trivia

Q: What Tennessee town gets its name from a rock that was struck by a meteor?

A. The Town of Hollow Rock