Maplesville council tables decision to hire more police officers

Published 4:56 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Maplesville Police Department will continue to operate with three full-time officers and a group of part-time officers for at least another month as the town council spends more time reviewing the department’s budget.

Police Chief Todd Ingram recommended at a meeting Monday that the council hire two more full-time officers, but council members were hesitant to proceed without knowing exactly how this would affect the police department’s budget.

Ingram said having five full-time officers would alleviate strain on the department’s current officers and allow him to work five days a week and commit more of his on-duty hours to administrative tasks for the department while other officers are patrolling.

Five full-time officers would also create more flexibility and security with the department’s shift schedule by ensuring no officer would work alone or be forced to leave Maplesville unattended while answering a call.

According to Ingram, hiring more full-time officers would also reduce the amount of overtime pay that officers would accrue for having to work more hours to cover the town’s needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Maplesville officers are currently on a two-week schedule in which they work seven days at 12 hours to equal 84 hours at the end of the period, giving them two extra hours they can work before going into overtime.

According to state law, officers can work up to 86 hours before overtime starts. Any officer who exceeds 86 hours must be paid overtime.

The police department did not use $30,000 of its projected line-item budget for Fiscal Year 2012. Ingram said the $30,000 surplus coupled with the amount of overtime pay the department would cut out by having more full-time officers should help provide a fifth officer’s pay.

After reviewing payroll from 2012, Ingram calculated the department spent $34,689.16 for overtime and part-time pay.

“That would be the best situation to benefit the town,” Ingram said. “It’s worked in the past. I think we have the money to do it.”

Ingram recommended for full-time officer positions Keith Avery and Bridgette Ellis, both of whom were approved by the council to be hired as part-time officers in March after full-time officer Casey O’Farril resigned.

Ingram said the department currently has six cars and would need to purchase and install one computer in a patrol car if two more officers were hired.

The council met in executive session Monday to discuss the two town employees, Avery (who was present for the council meeting) and Ellis, as candidates for the fourth and fifth full-time officer positions.

When the meeting resumed, Ingram recommended hiring both Avery and Ellis as full-time officers for a yearlong period, but the council did not make a motion to do so.

Ingram then recommended the department retain Avery and Ellis as part-time officers and continue working with three full-time officers for another month while Town Clerk Sheila Haigler gathers budget figures for the council to review before the next regular meeting May 13.

Haigler reminded the council that the budget is merely a guideline, and even with last year’s surplus, the department might find itself with fewer funds to pay officers with this year depending on how much revenue comes in from the town’s sales tax, business licenses and property taxes, all of which fluctuate from one year to the next.

Council member Sheila Hall made a motion to continue operating with three full-time officers as the council reviews the budget. Council member Richard Davis seconded Hall’s motion.

Council member Hal Harrison also voted in favor of Ingram’s recommendation, while council members Hilda Atchison and Patty Crocker abstained from voting in accordance with the council’s code of ethics because both have family ties to department employees.

For the fire department, Chief Michael Drewry asked for and received the council’s permission to start looking at rescue vehicles to eventually purchase one to replace the department’s current one.

“We’re in real bad need of a dependable rescue vehicle,” Drewry said. “We want to get something with a diesel engine in it; something that will last.”

Drewry said the rescue vehicle could cost between $50,000–$60,000.

Drewry will be responsible for bringing vehicle specifications back to the council for approval.

Street department superintendent Kenny Barrett gave a report on preparations for the town’s annual Heritage Day event April 13.

Barrett said the streets had been swept, and Pam Ousley’s class from Maplesville High School offered to clean up around the Foshee house Wednesday afternoon as a community service project.

In other business, the council:

•Heard an update from Mayor W.C. Hayes about Lot 7 on Mobile Street (owned by Emmett Perry Wood and Tim Mims). Hayes said the property, which was in violation of the town’s ordinance prohibiting nuisance (unclean) properties, “looks good but is not finished.”

•Approved to purchase a graduation advertisement in The Clanton Advertiser.

•Approved for the mayor to attend the 2013 Annual Convention for $300 if he chooses to do attend.

•Approved for the town clerk to attend the summer convention for $125 in June.