Police ready to cover expanded area

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said his agency isprepared to handle law enforcement duties when an approvedannexation takes effect.

“We’re going to cover the areas we need to cover,” Hendersonsaid Tuesday. “We will give the people the service they need.”

A special judge last week approved an annexation that will morethan double the city’s size. Objectors are considering an appeal,but have not yet made a final decision.

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If there is no appeal, the annexation will take effect 30 daysafter the court order is entered. City attorneys are working onthat order and hope to have it ready this week.

For areas around the city, the annexation would shift lawenforcement coverage from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Departmentto the police department. Henderson said Sheriff Wiley Calcote hasoffered to help in any way possible during the transition.

“I appreciate him saying that,” Henderson said.

Henderson said his department is already getting calls fromcounty residents about speeding concerns in their areas.

“They’re looking forward to the city coming in to controlspeeds,” Henderson said.

The chief, however, expected it would be some time before theboard of aldermen decides speed limits for the new city streets. Heurged careful evaluation in setting those limits.

“You really need to look at some of the roads, which will becomestreets,” Henderson said. “You have to be consistent.”

Although not always posted, many county roads have speed limitsof 45 miles per hour. Henderson doubted if that limit would stayonce the annexation goes into effect.

“When they come into the city, that’s going to be a little toofast,” Henderson said.

Henderson offered some reassurance that motorists will have sometime to adjust to new traffic conditions before receivingcitations.

“We intend to work with the people,” Henderson said. “They’regoing to have to get used to it, but I don’t intend to get outthere and write a bunch of tickets without warning people.”

Henderson indicated that his department will not be dealing withjust traffic issues.

The chief said all laws will be enforced, although citizens alsowill have an adjustment period for “minor” offenses. He said thoseincluded issues that burning of trash, discharging a firearm, orloud music.

“On major things, the law is the law, and we’ll enforce thatlaw,” Henderson said.

Henderson said his department is still planning a move from thelaw enforcement complex to old Mississippi Highway Patrolsubstation on Highway 51. The chief said the substation is in a”great location.”

City officials are considering costs of renovating the buildingfor police department use, Henderson said. He added that the boardof aldermen will need to look at the building and see what isneeded before the move is made.

“After that, we’ll see if we need a precinct or a substationelsewhere,” Henderson said.

In addition to other personnel, the police department has 19patrolmen, plus three shift captains, three lieutenants and threesergeants, according to the city’s services and facilities planpresented during the annexation trial. In addition to anotherinvestigator and a second animal control officer, the plan callsfor nine patrolmen to be added in the first year of theannexation.

Henderson said he would like to meet with attorneys and cityofficials to get started on acquiring the additional manpower assoon as possible. He was confident, though, that current personnelcould handle the enlarged city until the new officers join thedepartment and complete training.

“I’d like to get on that right away,” said Henderson. “We’llstill be able to cover the areas with no problem.”