Columbiana discusses Sheriffs Office contract for police protection

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe presented a letter to the city council Tuesday night discussing the idea of contracting the city&8217;s law enforcement services with the Shelby County Sheriff&8217;s office.

The contract would be similar to agreements that other cities in Shelby County, such as Chelsea, Wesover, Indian Springs and Wilsonville have made with the Sheriff&8217;s office.

Lowe said the consideration to move under the sheriff&8217;s protection came as city officials have been trying to put together a budget for 2007.

&8220;We&8217;re always looking at how efficient we can be economically,&8221; Lowe said. &8220;We have to examine all of our departments including public works, administration and police.&8221;

Lowe said he met with Shelby County sheriff Chris Curry, Chief Deputy John Samaniego and Columbiana police chief Johnny Brown on July 13 to discuss the pros and cons of contracting with the Sheriff&8217;s Office over operating a municipal police department.

&8220;The meeting was very informative and I was insured that all sworn Columbiana police officers would be employed by the Sheriff&8217;s Office,&8221; he said.

The city of Columbiana currently employs seven sworn police officers.

Lowe said the shift would provide &8220;significant monetary savings&8221; for the city.

&8220;I have no doubt that the professionalism and level of community care would be equal or greater to what we provide now,&8221; he said. &8220;I have to look at what&8217;s best for the city –

not an individual employee.&8221;

Lowe admitted, however, that he does have some reservations about the idea.

&8220;I have concerns that the hometown policing may not be able to be duplicated in an agency as large as the Sheriff&8217;s Office,&8221; he said.

Following Tuesday&8217;s council meeting, Lowe said the council members would need to hold a work session to discuss the idea in more detail.

&8220;We would have to hold a work session,&8221; he said, &8220;because this decision is critical to our city&8217;s future.&8221;