Centerville’s planned law enforcement facility dominates meeting

Telegraph correspondentOctober 2, 2012 

CENTERVILLE -- City officials met Tuesday with Centerville’s police and fire chiefs for strategic planning and to start discussing equipping and furnishing the city’s planned $3 million law enforcement facility.

Councilman Jon Nichols, new head of the council’s Public Safety Subcommittee, said the meeting was more about learning about long-range needs and the department’s plans than nailing down immediate issues.

The meeting was the subcommittee’s first since 2010.

Nichols and Councilman Ed Tucker, who now represent the council on the subcommittee, spent much of Tuesday’s meeting assuring Police Chief Sidney Andrews and Fire Chief Jason Jones of the council’s support and appreciation and encouraging them to make their departments thrive.

“We want you to focus on what’s good for the city and on what Centerville needs,” Tucker said. “We know from the past we can trust you, and you will work in an economical way for the city’s good.”

Andrews began discussions about initial plans for equipping and furnishing the law enforcement facility, made possible by the 2012 special purpose local option sales tax. Without giving specific dollar amounts, Andrews outlined his preliminary thoughts about office furniture, security systems, cameras, and armory furnishings, as well as break and exercise facilities for officers.

Andrews also asked the committee to look at the creation of a full-time probation officer position. Andrews said the position would give the city another law enforcement officer and might be a more economical way to handle city probationers.

The group agreed to prepare a feasibility study to present to the council. The study would look at similar programs, including benefits, drawbacks and costs in other cities, including neighboring Byron.

Andrews and Jones also agreed the committee should initiate a study looking at the possibility of a new pay scale for public safety employees that better rewarded experience and offered incentives for higher education.

The group agreed to look at the matter.

Jones told the group a new ISO rating study is set for late 2012 or early 2013 that could lower insurance rates for residents. Such a rating study had not been done for 17 years and that improvements, especially in the past five years, in manpower, equipment, water availability and other areas, likely would improve Centerville’s score and potentially lower rates, he said.

Jones also brought up the need of a new $700,000 fire truck in the foreseeable future. The truck would be needed to reach higher than current equipment allows. He also mentioned the desire to add a firefighter to each station shift, raising the number from four to five.

City Administrator Patrick Eidson said he could see getting the new truck, as well as other items mentioned in discussions, in coming city budgets.

Nichols said at the close of the meeting he hopes the subcommittee will be able to meet monthly.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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