Florala, Lockhart to work toward PD contract

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 26, 2013

With only a part-time police department, the Town of Lockhart looks to the Florala Police Department to fill the gap in service.

Now, Florala wants Lockhart to pay for that benefit.

Council members voted Monday to begin the contractual process between the municipalities “to make sure everyone is covered – liability wise” and to make sure officers are paid for their time.

“If our officers, which we are paying, have to leave our city to respond to a call in Lockhart, they should be paid,” said Councilwoman Ann Eason. “If we provide police protection to Lockhart, then Lockhart should assume that liability and those costs.”

Florala Police Chief Sonny Bedsole said that Lockhart Mayor Eugene Birge is in agreement.

“I’d like to see our police stay in Florala, but because Lockhart is our neighbor, if they pay, I see no problem,” Eason said.

Bedsole said that officers are duty-bound to respond in life-or-death-situations regardless of location; however, he understands the need for a contract.

Councilmoman Hazel Lee questioned having the same contract with the Covington County Sheriff’s Office for FPD officers responding to calls for service within the county jurisdiction.

Bedsole said one such case was a “theft in progress” last week on County Road 4. Bedsole said FPD officers arrived, apprehended the suspect and waited for county units to arrive.

“It’s not fair to our taxpayers,” Carmichal said of the practice.

Bedsole was instructed to calculate the number of calls for service, the amount of time officers spend responding to those calls in both jurisdictions and how is the best way to keep track of those incidents.

“Maybe what we need is a contract that sets a flat fee,” Eason said.

Mayor Robert Williamson asked Bedsole to discuss the matter with Birge before the council proceeded further.