Council may OK task force funding

Published 9:06 pm Friday, April 22, 2016

District Attorney Michael Jackson’s drug task force will likely be getting extra funding from the Selma City Council.

The council is expected to pass a motion during its next meeting that would give Jackson’s task force $25,000 from the city’s red light camera fund. During Thursday night’s work session, Greg Bjelke, Corey Bowie and Angela Benjamin — the only three council members who attended — spent a large portion of the meeting debating where the funding would come from before settling on the red light camera fund.

“This is just part of the holistic approach to try to make it safer in Selma,” Bowie said. “Like I always say, safety is paramount for anyone in the city.”

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Bowie said the council will also vote Tuesday on providing an extra $25,000 to the Selma Police Department for community policing and code enforcement. The extra funding for that would come from a line item designated for community policing.

Bowie said Mayor George Evans had asked for additional funding for community policing during a recent council meeting.

“They are going to be voted on, both of them simultaneously, at Tuesday’s meeting,” Bowie said.

He said each year, the city council gives Jackson’s task force $7,500. Jackson said he used to get around $400,000 from an Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs grant, but now only receives $50,000.

“My office has had to make up that difference,” Jackson said. “Any amount we can get from the city and the county helps. Our drug task force has spent an awful lot of time in Dallas County, although they cover the five counties, given what all is going on in Dallas County. They are the ones that help me round up these agencies to fight these gangs and gunslingers, so we appreciate any amount, but we’d like it to be more, quite frankly.”

Jackson said he had asked for even more funding from the council.

He said this additional funding and the $7,500 he gets each year is helpful, but it doesn’t help make up for the budget cuts his office has faced.

“These operations are not inexpensive for them to setup and be in Dallas County all this time, doing all this work on the streets,” Jackson said. “It’s just not cheap. At some point, the city and the county — especially the city— is going to have to invest in public safety.”

Originally, discussions centered around taking the money for the task force from the fund for the Brown YMCA, but Bowie said that won’t happen.

“That was just a hypothetical,” Bowie said.

Benjamin said during the meeting that she wanted to support the cause, but said the city only has so much money to give.

“I’m not with everyone milking us,” Benjamin said. “You know I’m all with helping the district attorney, but I’m not with everyone calling on the city of Selma and milking us.”