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City may abolish police jurisdiction

Andalusia’s recently elected mayor and council will consider an ordinance to abolish the police jurisdiction when the group holds its first regular council meeting Tuesday night.

Members of the council-elect were presented with the proposed ordinance in a workshop meeting Thursday, along with recommendations from both City Clerk John Thompson and Police Chief Wilbur Williams that the ordinance be approved.

Thompson told members of the council-elect that the city currently collects $30,000 in business licenses in the police jurisdiction. But Williams estimates his department spends at least $50,000 per year answering calls in that area.

In his memo to the council, Williams said, “these calls for service account for approximately 20 percent of the work load for the Department.”

Williams also stated that “many of these calls are domestic in nature and require at least two officers … This means that two cars are involved, literally doubling our actual time spent on the call and doubling our mileage driven to service the call.”

Williams told the council that his department will continue to provide back-up service to the sheriff’s department in the jurisdiction if the council approve the ordinance, which would become effective Jan. 1, 2009.

“When our officers are out there, they’re not here,” Williams said.

Earlier this year, the current administration pulled its fire protection out of the police jurisdiction, agreeing on a policy in which it would provide help to other fire departments under a mutual aid agreement. The change was made because the rating agency that issues fire safety insurance ratings ruled that the city must cover all or none of the police jurisdiction. Previously, the city fire department had operated under a county-wide fire protection agreement in which part of the jurisdiction received primary coverage from a volunteer fire department.

The council will have the first reading of the ordinance abolishing the police jurisdiction at its Tuesday meeting, set for 6 p.m. At that meeting, the council also will consider an ordinance increasing garbage fees.