West Point City Council will wait at least one more month to form a Citizen’s Advisory Committee for the police department.
Council had discussed at its Thursday work session a resolution outlining how a proposed committee would work. The committee – who will be on it and how it will operate – has been debated since it was included in a resolution passed earlier this year allowing officers to carry Tasers.
The group will be made up of seven members appointed by mayor and city council and a representative from the police department is required to attend. Council has yet to appoint anyone to the group.
There still were questions Monday night on how the group would operate, however.
“A consensus was not reached (Thursday) and there is a concern this is adding a layer we didn’t want,” said Mayor Drew Ferguson IV.
In response to the concerns, Ferguson proposed yet another layer of the police review committee. In his proposal, use of force and policy issues would first be reviewed by a professional law enforcement agency like the Georgia Chiefs of Police Sheriff’s Association or other group before heading to the citizen’s committee.
“This is an attempt at a compromise,” said Councilman Joe Downs.
But some council members chafed at the proposal, which they had just seen prior to Monday’s meeting, even though the idea of an outside opinion appealed to some.
“This is different from what we talked about at the work session,” said Councilwoman Sandra Thornton.
Councilwoman Judy Wilkinson also didn’t like the speed with which the proposal was brought, although she agreed an outside agency could be “a little more fair.”
“We need some kind of experience,” she said.
Downs said that was the reason for the change.
“Tasers are new to the city and we need to make sure we are doing this correct,” he said.
But a vote on the resolution to create the committee and include the help of an outside agency was split, 3-3. Council members Wilkinson, Jerry Ledbetter and Ben Wilcox were against it; Gloria Marshall, Downs and Thornton voted for it.
Ferguson declined to vote to break the tie.
“I don’t feel comfortable that there’s enough of a consensus on this, so I’m going to abstain from voting,” he said. “Whatever we do, we want to do well, so the council will continue to work on this.”
Council’s next work session is 6 p.m. Sept. 25.
Council did vote on de-annexing 5.78 acres at 164 Old Gabbettville Road. The property had been annexed in 2008, but owners are asking to be let out of the city limit because they say expected growth with Kia hasn’t happened as quickly as they’d hoped. Water and sewer provided by West Point have yet to reach the property.
“(The owners) feel the increase in property tax is not worth the services that are available,” Planning Director Sammy Osborne said in a memo to council.