Columbiana chooses police department over Sheriffs contract

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 8, 2006

The city of Columbiana will keep its police department, city officials say.

Forty-eight hours after Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe presented a letter to the city council regarding the possibility of closing the town&8217;s police department and contracting with the Shelby County Sheriff&8217;s office, the city&8217;s leader assured business leaders that the idea was no longer under consideration.

Lowe and councilmember Tom Seale made the announcement during a meeting of the Columbiana Merchants and Professionals Association on Thursday.

&8220;Contracting out with the police department is not even an option right now,&8221; Lowe told the 20-plus business owners in attendance.

Lowe told the group he was examining all of the city&8217;s options as it tries to balance its budget for the coming fiscal year.

&8220;We have to look at every option,&8221; Lowe said. &8220;That&8217;s an option we had to look at and it&8217;s not going to happen so we have to move on to something else.&8221;

Lowe said one of the determining factors in keeping the department was the potential loss of quality work if the city were to contract out to the Sheriff&8217;s office.

Columbiana Police Chief Johnny Brown echoed Lowe&8217;s sentiments that the city&8217;s police officers have a special relationship with the community.

&8220;That&8217;s the benefit of a small-town police department,&8221; Brown said. &8220;We care. You can&8217;t tell me that the sheriff&8217;s department is going to give us top priority.&8221;

Lowe assured business leaders that he has faith in the city&8217;s police officers.

&8220;The Shelby County Sheriff&8217;s Office is a great organization,&8221; he said. &8220;But I believe our police department has things well under control.&8221;