County officials discuss community safety

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

MT LAUREL—Residents of Mt Laurel and North Shelby gathered at Mt Laurel Elementary School on Feb. 19 to hear from public safety personnel about safety and disaster preparedness.

Sponsored by Shelby County District 8 Commissioner Rick Shepherd, the meeting addressed all aspects of public safety, from law enforcement and fire prevention to planning for a weather emergency situation.

The meeting was attended by Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego, Chief Deputy Chris George, Capt. Kevin Turner, Cahaba Valley Fire Department Battalion Chief John Yancey, Shelby County Chief Development Officer Chad Scroggins and Shelby County Emergency Management Agency Supervisor Hub Harvey.

Samaniego noted the increased public presence of the Sheriff’s Office at community events, through safety alerts and with citizen enrichment programs such as Project Lifesaver, which allows the Sheriff’s Office to track and locate lost elderly and special needs individuals.

“We are sending deputies out to basically every public function to make them available to you,” Samaniego said.

Samaniego also addressed crime, noting the Sheriff’s Office is continuing to combat drug crimes with the combined efforts of the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force, led by Turner.

“We are going to attack that problem, and hopefully we can do some good,” Samaniego said. “We are able to make over 100 drug cases per month.”

Finally, Samaniego encouraged citizens to stay safe and “anonymous” and reach out to the Sheriff’s Office in any case of suspicious activity.

“If you see a suspicious vehicle, please… pick up the phone and call us,” Samaniego said. “If you give us what the need is, we will react to it, we’ll come and see what we can do.”

Yancey discussed the public services offered by the Cahaba Valley Fire Department. In addition to responding to fires and emergency situations, the department also offers public CPR classes and visits schools to train students on fire safety drills and prevention, Yancey explained.

Harvey addressed the county’s plan for winter weather situations and road closures, noting conveying information to the public was a primary focus for the EMA.

Harvey highlighted the county’s road alerts web page, which is regularly updated with road closures and alternate routes “during a winter weather event.” This information can be found at Raodalerts.shelbyal.com.

Harvey noted the EMA plans for more than winter weather situations.

“A lot of people think we wait around for weather to come along, but we (plan for) all hazards,” Harvey said.

More information about public safety can be found on the Sheriff’s Office website, Shelbyso.com; the Cahaba Valley Fire Department website, Cahabavalleyfire.org; and the Shelby County EMA website, Shelbyal.com/index.aspx?NID=252.