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Register looks to Brooklet for police
Town proposes partnership as transition back to self-sustaining department
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Brooklet Police soon may enter into a partnership with the Town of Register to bring back a police presence, said Register Mayor Barbara Rushing.

The Register Town Council met Thursday night for more than three hours, discussing the proposed partnership to temporarily share police resources. The issue was tabled until August, but a special called meeting could take place sooner, she said.

The proposed partnership would be temporary; would not be full time and would help the town transition back to its own part-time, self-sustained department, she said.

The main concern of council members and residents is whether the town can afford a police department financially, Rushing said.

“The police department has to sustain itself, and the town has to sustain itself,” she said. “The town cannot count on revenue and will not (financially) support the police department.”

The proposed partnership would allow only for part time police coverage (48 total hours per week), and would be “on trial” for six to nine months, she said.

The Town of Register suspended its former police department following several financial problems with the department, as well as other town money issues. The former Register Police Department, led by the late Tom Kile as chief, was under fire from local businesses and residents as well as being listed among the top five speed traps in Georgia by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In spite of what some called excessive policing and revenues being one of the highest per capita in the state, the department found itself in debt and unable to maintain operation. The council voted to suspend the department in December.

Rushing said much of the town’s financial woes are on track to be eliminated. In a notice mailed last week, Register residents were told: “Council has moved forward from prior financial turmoil by reducing debt, limiting expenses, and establishing a budget within our means. Council knows this town must be able to sustain itself, without a police department, but can possibly look forward to providing a police presence for a safer community.”

Council members have discussed the police department issue since January, and the topic was on the agenda for every meeting, she said.

The Town of Register still has police equipment, including a tag reader that is not yet paid for, and a new patrol car bought with grant money. The town once considered selling the items, but has been unsuccessful in selling the tag reader, and cannot sell the car since it was funded by a grant, and must be maintained and kept by the town, she said.

If the proposed partnership comes to fruition, Brooklet Police Chief Doug Meyer (who recently legally changed his name from Max Meyer) will serve as interim Register police chief, part time, and Brooklet police officers will work varied hours, with total hours not exceeding 48.

Meyer said he has led similar partnerships in the past, particularly in Holland and Cowan, Tenn.

“We went in and dealt with the specific situations” and the efforts were successful, he said.

He emphasized the proposed partnership would be temporary, and that he and his department would help the town of Register “get  back on its feet” and stabilize, then he would help them locate a new part-time police chief.

Brooklet police officers hired as part-time Register officers would have the choice to remain part time, and if not, Register could hire others.

“We’re not here to spend money or rock the world. We would be only transitional,” he said.

Rushing said most residents and council members agree that a police presence is needed, although not in the same capacity as before.

“We need some type of police presence here. We do not need full time officers. We are not looking for a lot of speeding tickets, just a presence,” she said.

Unless a special called meeting is arranged, the police partnership issue would be revisited during the Aug. 11 council meeting, she said.

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

 

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