More officers needed to issue citations

Published 8:51pm Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In a city overflowing with illegal dumping, loud music and graffiti, we’re baffled that the amount of code enforcement citations issued is so few.

During their regular city council meeting Wednesday, council members addressed this issue, and pointed a finger at local law enforcement for their lack of citations detailed in a recent report.

In the report given to the council, which covered a six-month period, only 12 code enforcement citations were written, and of those 12, only four were accepted and found legitimate. The citations were from a list of 334 complaints made by citizens of Selma to city officials.

Selma Chief of Police William T. Riley challenged the report, saying that according to his office, more than 250 citations were issued in a five-month period.

Whether the amount of citations issued was four or 250, it underscores two problems; one being a communication breakdown between those issuing the citations and those tracking them, and, if the lower number is indeed accurate, or even somewhere between the two numbers reported, it’s clearly not enough to do what’s necessary to maintain a clean and orderly city.

A major part of the challenge to get code enforcement to an acceptable level is to staff the department properly and place a high level of expectations on those responsible for enforcement.

Having only one officer designated to oversee code enforcement violations and issue citations is unacceptable to the residents of Selma.

This job, we believe, is much too large to be put on one person’s plate. In addition to code enforcement, this officer also serves as director of the PALS program.

We urge the Selma Police Department and Selma City Council to highly consider assigning more officers to this overwhelming task. If we want to adopt more laws and ordinances to cut down on code violations, then we must have the means to enforce them — otherwise, they are useless.


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