Opinion: City leaders need to work together to resolve current dilemma

Published 5:41 am Monday, May 6, 2024

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This past week, everyone in Selma has seen the issues that city leadership are dealing with in relation to crime and the Selma Police Department.

One apparent issue is that there is a disconnect between the mayor’s office, the city council, Selma City Schools and the police department. Mayor James Perkins Jr. said in his press conference Wednesday that directives he’s made to the police department are not being followed for one reason or another. We are at the point where Perkins has placed Police Chief Kenta Fulford on administrative leave.

Selma City School leaders have requested more police presence. The response has not been adequate enough to feel comfortable to return to in-person instruction this week after a pair of shootings this past weekend have raised concerns about student safety.

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The City Council was unwilling to terminate Fulford last year after Perkins placed Fulford on administrative leave last year due to Perkins’ expectations not being met. It is unclear if there are enough votes to change its position on Fulford.

It appears that some needs are not being met within the police department. 

In Perkins’ press conference, he stated, “The chief and I developed a plan for staffing two and a half years ago, maybe three years ago probably. And there were steps for the completion of that. Those plans have not been met.”

Perkins did not elaborate on why those plans weren’t being met, though he added that “I can’t think of a financing request of the Selma Police Department that the council has not honored.”

First, let us be honest: we do not know what the solution to this problem is. However, it is abundantly clear that no one is on the same page. No one can agree on a solution, much less what the problem really is.

The only way this cycle will end is when all sides can come together and outline what the issues facing public safety are in Selma. Is there a staffing problem? Is there a leadership problem? Is there a crime problem?

One thing is for sure, there is no simple solution. It’s likely going to have to take some concessions on all sides to come to an agreement.

If no deal can be struck, nothing will change. We urge everyone to come to the table and find an agreement that will work for all parties involved and will improve the public safety of our citizens.