AMORY – The Amory Police Department logged 421 hours, which equates to approximately $13,000, of overtime during the Railroad Festival due to being short handed, according to Amory Police Chief Ronnie Bowen at April 21's city board meeting.
“That figure is just an estimate on our part and is in addition to the regular patrol pay. We are four officers short now so we were so frazzled by Saturday night that we were using EMTs and the fire department as spotters,” said Bowen, who stated that, in addition to the shortage, one officer was out for surgery and another had a death in the family.
As to rumors that the Monroe County Sheriff's Office didn't have a presence at the festival, both Bowen and Sheriff Cecil Cantrell maintain that deputies were present.
“There were some deputies there. I don't know if there were the same numbers we've seen in the past. The reserves that normally come for the 5K weren't there because they had a funeral to attend. I saw Sheriff Cantrell there everyday,” Bowen said.
“I had deputies there and 10 inmates cleaning. I even had three deputies spend the night the whole weekend. We still have to answer calls in the county and there was a funeral to attend, but we were there,” said Cantrell, who added that the trailer MCSO normally has set up at the festival is in Hamilton as a satellite station to better patrol the area.
The larger festival layout may have factored into the appearance of fewer law enforcement also.
Bowen also explained to the board of aldermen for the reason for an $829 bill on a cell cleaning.
“We had a mentally ill inmate in the cell and had to bring in a bio hazardous waste cleaning team in to clean the cell. The inmate has done this before and with other agencies also,” Bowen said.
Body cameras for the APD are being researched for next year's potential approval by the board, said Bowen, who added that the ability to have a record of law enforcement interaction with the public is desirable.
In other matters, aldermen will seek to repeal an ordinance establishing a historical preservation commission due to deficiencies within the committee that should have been corrected within a 30-day time period.
One of the conditions is that the board maintains nine members, which it has been unable to do.
“Essentially, the major issue is that they had a lack of members. Through the inability to have active members along with two complex ordinances, the committee has been unable to respond to applications for improvement,” said City Attorney John Creekmore.
Ward 1 Alderman Buddy Carlisle made a motion to repeal the ordinance with Ward 4 Alderman Glen Bingham offering a second. A 30-day notice will run before the commission is dissolved.
The city will move forward with a $1.5 million bond issue for the purpose of improving and repaving city thoroughfares and residential streets.
“We are in the best position we could be in,” said Creekmore, who explained that the city will be able to cover the cost without requiring a levy.
In other business, the board approved:
• The hiring of Will Wells as a part-time employee at the Amory Regional Museum.
• A request, via letter, to appoint Tim Oswalt to the planning commission.
• A request from United Furniture to extend their its through October 2017.