Macon City Council’s Public Safety Committee approved a resolution Monday that authorizes Macon Mayor Robert Reichert to execute a contract for a new CodeRED Emergency Notification System.
Should the resolution be approved by the full council next week, the new system would allow emergency officials to contact neighborhood residents all over Macon and Bibb County by telephone in case of an emergency.
Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency Director Donald Druitt told council members Monday that the system could be used to target specific neighborhoods with situations ranging from a dangerous chemical spill to an Amber Alert.
“It sends out a voice mail that’s the fastest way to get a message out,” Druitt said.
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Any city or county resident with a landline phone would automatically be a part of the system, while residents with cell phones would have to opt in to the system.
Crawford County has already begun using the CodeRED system, and Peach County is expected to approve a contract as well.
Council President Pro Tem James Timley expressed some concerns initially as to the cost of the system, which costs $115,500 over a three-year contract. Timley said he worried where the money would come from.
“I have a problem that we’re presented ideas (by the administration) about spending money and not identifying the source,” Timley said, addressing Keith Moffett, Reichert’s director of internal affairs. “Everything comes out of the general fund.”
But Moffett and Druitt told council members the first year of the contract, which would cost $38,500, is covered by a grant already awarded by the federal government. The council must still approve receiving the grant money.
Should the city not find other grant sources, it can elect to opt out of the program at any time after 30 days notice, Druitt said.
In other business, the committee tabled a resolution from Councilman Ed DeFore that requests the Macon police to assign a precinct in the Village Green neighborhood. If that isn’t possible, DeFore would like the city to pay for the cost of housing an officer there.
Village Green was the scene last month of a shooting death and an arson on the same night, leading to the arrests of several individuals on multiple charges.
DeFore said an officer used to live in the neighborhood and interacted very well, especially with the children who live there, but he moved out several years ago.
Police Chief Mike Burns said he already has had several discussions with Reichert about the possibility of a precinct or substation there, but as of right now, it would be an expensive proposition to find a property that can be converted into a police station and make sure it had sufficient staffing and equipment. Burns said the department tried to see if any officers would move into the neighborhood by offering free housing, but none of the officers expressed an interest.
“After they’ve done a shift, it’s hard to ask anyone to be there 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Burns said.
Councilman Larry Schlesinger said the committee should table the resolution to give Burns and Reichert time to develop a plan for the neighborhood and present it in two weeks at the next committee meeting.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.