Resolution could help SPD

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 6, 2004

After saying he wasn’t sure if Selma needed more policemen or not last month, Mayor James Perkins Jr. has put together a resolution for the Selma City Council offering to help the police department gain more officers.

The resolution states that if the department can fill the current six empty slots, then Perkins will seek additional funding for four more officers.

Perkins pointed out that all he can do is make a recommendation to the council, but he

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would help to seek the additional funding.

“The council approves the budget, the council approves any budget changes and the council approves all of the contracts and the council does all of the appointments,” Perkins said. “That’s all I can do is make a recommendation.”

Because Perkins was out of town Monday, the resolution was read at the City Council meeting by administrative assistant Sheri James.

However, because of a broken copier, the council did not get their copies and delayed any action until a later meeting.

“I don’t know what the reaction of the police department is to this, but we do need more policeman,” councilwoman Jean Martin said. “I think that would be wonderful if we can find the men and women. It’s a good thing I hope it happens.”

According to the resolution, the city currently is budgeted for 59 slots but only has 53 officers.

If the resolution is passed and fulfilled, then the city will have 63 officers.

The resolution continues by asking the Police Department to look as scheduling practices.

“James Perkins Jr., Mayor of the City of Selma requests the Selma Police Department to reassess its scheduling of sworn police officers and make adjustments that will maximize performance within the department,” the resolution states.

The issue came up over the number of police officers slotted in the current budget.

The city had received a Justice Department COPS grant requiring the city to retain the officers after the grant ended in November of 2004.

This resolution would bring the city back to the number of officer slots it had before the grant.

“It’s going to be once the police department finishes filling the vacant position it has, that we go back to the number of police officer slots that existed prior to the COPS grant going into effect,” Perkins said.

With the city in a financial crunch, auditors from the firm of Boreland and Benefield recommended the city lay off employees.

Instead, Perkins and the council decided to cut the officer slots from the budget and ask the Justice Department for an exemption.

So far, the Justice Department has apparently not issued a ruling.

“The last time we talked to the justice department, they indicated to us they are turning it over for review,” Perkins said.

Perkins addressed the slots directly in the resolution.

“The City of Selma declares that 10 unfilled grant-funded slots were removed from the budget for the purpose of balancing the budget,” the resolution states. “The removal of the same was recommended by the Mayor and voted on and approved by the council as required by law.”