City commends police during National Police Week, approves funds for cameras

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2023

At the Tuesday regular meeting of the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen, Ward 3 Alderman and Mayor Pro Tempore Rev. Charles Caston Sr. expressed thanks to the Brookhaven Police Department and Chief Kenneth Collins.

“This is National Police Week, and I want to commend you all for the job that you are doing in this Homeseekers’ Paradise that we all live in,” Caston said. “I thank you for being there for us in this community and taking care of us.”

“Thank you,” Collins said.

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Ward 1 Alderman James Magee Jr. motioned that the Police Department be allowed to add recently-seized drug monies in the approximate amount of $45,000 to its equipment budget, and authorize it to be used in purchasing and installing cameras in the Rogers Circle area. Chief Collins had requested this be done at the previous board meeting.

Board attorney Bobby Moak confirmed that while the funds could not be used for an already-budgeted item, they could be used for anything else that helped the purposes of the department.

After discussion, the amount to be used toward cameras was specified at $15,000.

Caston seconded the motion, and the aldermen voted unanimously in approval.


Police vehicle repairs

Ward 4 Alderman Jeff Henning asked Collins for clarification on a March repair for one of the BPD vehicles. Henning asked why a $6,600 repair was sent to a shop in Pike County rather than to a local facility.

“Was it a time frame issue?” Henning asked.

“We try to send all work locally, but this needed to be done,” Collins said.

“That’s a lot of money to send out of county,” Henning said. “So you’re saying time frame is not the issue, it’s just where you wanted to take it?”

“A lot of time we just have to see how busy the shops are locally and take it to whoever can get to it,” Collins said.

Henning asked why an estimate wasn’t brought to the board prior to the work being done.

“We don’t have the luxury to sit around and wait,” Collins answered.

“So you’d rather take it to [Pike County] than [locally],” Henning said. “We’d rather you keep that kind of money in the county. You didn’t give [the local shop] a chance.”

Collins replied he will do what he can to keep all repairs local.


Proposed City vehicle policy

At the May 2 Brookhaven City Board meeting, aldermen discussed implementing a policy limiting the use of city-owned vehicles.

Alderman-at-Large Don Underwood suggested setting a distance limit for how far vehicles could be taken from the city when not on official business.

“I would suggest we set a limit at 25 miles from the city limits for six months, then reduce it to 20 miles for another six months, then to not permit vehicles to go outside Lincoln County,” Underwood said. “That gives a year to get it down to the county limits.”

Underwood said the intent is to keep city-owned vehicles that are taken home by employees from traveling outside the county when not on official business. The stair-step mile limit would keep the policy from being punitive, or a hardship upon anyone who may currently travel beyond the county line to his or her home.

Attorney Bobby Moak said the offices of the Attorney General and the State Auditor require a policy of some sort be decided upon by the board and implemented.

“The policy can be whatever you want, but there must be a policy,” Moak said. “I would suggest you look at other city’s policies before doing it.”

Moak said the two specific prohibitions must include the use of city vehicles for any personal purpose, such as going to the grocery store on the way home from work; and the use of a city vehicle to travel from a city job to a non-city job.

At the May 16 meeting, Ward 6 Alderman Andre’ Spiller said the proposed policy is being misunderstood or misrepresented. The policy would not prevent a city employee from stopping at a convenience store for a snack.

“We’re not telling people you can’t have cookies and soda pop at these stores,” Spiller said. “That’s a lie. People are coming up to me and telling me that’s what we said. Next time that happens there won’t be a next time.”