Police, fire departments want say on speed bumps

Published 9:37 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Speed bumps have been at the center of discussion in recent months for the Selma City Council’s Public Safety Committee.

While the policy and procedures to request them is not changing, Michael Johnson, chairman of the committee, is asking council members to respect recommendations made by the Selma Fire and Police Departments.

“We have to respect our superiors,” Johnson said Tuesday. “We want to make sure we respect the recommendations that we get from the chief of police and the fire chief. When they tell us in particular areas that we don’t need speed bumps, I want them to respect my decision and go along with me on what [they] give us in their recommendation.”

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Last month at a council meeting Councilwoman Jannie Thomas said she was backing her constituents in Ward 7 that petitioned to have speed bumps put in despite a recommendation not to put them in.

Johnson said both the police and fire departments had concerns with speed bumps being put in because it slows down response time, and they have also caused damage to firetrucks.

Johnson said Fire Chief Toney Stephens told the Public Safety Committee that speed bumps have caused the oil pan on one of their trucks to bust while driving over it, costing thousands of dollars in repairs.

“They brought before us bills for the city that cost somewhere close to $20,000 in repairs for the firetruck,” Johnson said. “Somebody’s life can be in jeopardy if the speed breakers cause problems to the firetruck. We need them to get there as quick as they can.”

Johnson said the committee is not ignoring the safety of people that live on streets where people speed by, but just wants to respect the opinions of the fire and police departments.

“They are the ones that have to deal with fighting crime and fires for us, and if they think it’s not a good area to put them in, then that’s what I want us to go by,” he said.

“They’re trained for it. They’ve been to school. That’s their job, and their job is to protect and serve for the best interest for the city of Selma. I don’t want to undermine them on their expertise when it comes down to giving us an opinion on a question we give them.”

Johnson said Selma Police Spencer Collier said those areas could be patrolled more often and more signs could be put up.

The current procedures for requesting speed bumps is to request to be placed on the council’s agenda for a Thursday night work session or have their council person present a petition.

The petition requires the name of the street or alley, blocks the speed bumps are requested for, a reason for speed bumps, names, addresses and signatures of each petitioner and it must be signed by the majority of people that live in that area.

The petition is then presented to the council, assigned to the mayor and police chief for review and reviewed by the Public Safety Committee publicly in the ward. The chiefs of the fire and police departments then forward their findings to the committee to present to the council. The council then considers the recommendation from the committee, and they will vote for or against it.

“I don’t want the citizens to think we don’t want to do it,” Johnson said. “We just want the citizens to understand that if the police [or fire] chief tells us no in this particular reason, they’re telling us that for a reason.”