APD limits change tonight

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008

When the clock strikes midnight for the New Year, the city of Andalusia will pull back its police jurisdiction and actively police those areas inside the city limits.

The decision was made in November to help alleviate some of the financial constraints facing the city. Mayor Earl Johnson estimates it will save the city more than $50,000 in annual expenses.

The former “police jurisdiction” areas will now become the responsibility of the Covington County Sheriff’s Office.

Andalusia Police Chief Wilbur Williams said new city limit signs will be erected in the coming days so that residents can determine if they reside inside the city limits or within the police jurisdiction.

“We have used the latest technology available to establish as close as possible — and we believe within inches — the city limits of Andalusia,” Williams said. “A lot of those areas have been misunderstood for years, but this should clear a lot of those misconceptions up.”

Williams said he understands there will be some confusion at first, especially in certain areas.

“Like Antioch Road, for instance,” he said. “When they annexed the Woodlands into the city, it kind of made an odd triangle where part of Antioch is in the city limits, but sections before and after that part are not.

“And the South Bypass,” he said. “The east bound lane is outside the limits, the west bound, in. (U.S. Hwy.) 84, over by (Ireland Trailer). The north side of 84 is in, but the road itself is not. It can be very confusing.”

Williams urged residents to call the police department or E-911 Command if they have a question about the city limit boundaries and if they reside within them.

He said he hopes the department and E-911 Command are “ahead of the game” when it comes to making those determination.

“When someone calls in to 911, the computer is supposed to tell us automatically whether or not the person lives within the city limits,” he said. “I know there are going to be a lot of people affected who have depended on the city for police protection for years. That’s now going to shift to the county.

“Our council felt that this was the solution in the best interest of the people who pay the majority of the costs of the Andalusia Police Department — the people who live inside the city limits,” he said.

Sheriff Dennis Meeks asked those residents experiencing the shift to be patient.

“We ask that the citizens of Covington County, if they have a call coming from anywhere within the county, please be patient,” Meeks said. “We’ll respond as quickly as we can.”