Riley makes proper early decisions

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 18, 2008

The issue: Selma Police Chief William Riley III begins shaping the police department.

Our position: We applaud the move to reinstating the drug unit, training and recruiting and internal affairs.

Take a look at any of the police reports that appear regularly in The Selma Times-Journal. This city might be small, but it has big-city issues, especially with burglary, robbery and assault.

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Many of these issues are the result of drug addiction. The craving and desire for drugs – expensive commodities – override any kind of fear of retribution.

Folks, who want crack or crystal meth, will rob, steal and cheat to get the money to buy the dope.

That is a fact of a life of addiction.

Recently, a group of young men were sentenced in U.S. District Court to varying terms in a federal prison. All were ordered to serve in facilities with drug programs.

These young men, once known as the St. Phillip Street Boys, lived in a house in Selma and ran out to the street as cars of users pulled up to get their dope.

In 2005,

state, federal, local and regional authorities set up a dragnet in this area of the city and built a case, then arrested the suspects.

That was when the city had a drug enforcement unit.

Everyday, drive through the city and look on various corners, and you’ll see individuals consummating drug deals.

This does not promote a safe city for residents or for tourists.

Selma Police Chief William Riley III announced this week that he had restructured the police department. He re-instituted the drug unit.

But he did not stop there.

Members of the command staff will function in several roles, Riley said. They will recruit and train.

Training is imperative, even in a city as small as Selma. Crooks come up with new ways of breaking the law every day. Police officers need to know the latest methods of solving cases or staying ahead of people who break the law.

The chief has established an internal affairs unit to investigate complaints about criminal or unethical behavior by officers.

People have pointed out the need for an internal affairs unit and orderly method of filing complaints at several recent meetings of the Selma City Council.

Additionally, Riley is taking seriously the $48,000 police study conducted by Ralph Ioimo of Public Safety Consultants Inc. of Wetumpka.

Among the top recommendations made in the report released in December before Riley arrived: enhance in-service training, revise and implement an aggressive recruiting program and consistency in discipline.

We look forward to other changes Riley will make in the upcoming months and to the results of these first initiatives.