A proposal to put gates up at the street entrances to the West Point Housing Authority is off the table after the city attorney said it can’t be done.
The authority had requested permission from the city earlier this month to put the gates up on six streets leading in and out of the housing project. The authority would have paid for construction and upkeep, but needed council’s blessing to block city streets.
Although housing authority representatives said some residents actually wanted the gates as a safety measure to keep troublemakers out, a number of residents didn’t like the idea and had promised to be at Tuesday night’s work session to protest. Only a handful of residents were there, however, after word apparently got out that the city wouldn’t be approving the gates.
“It’s our job to determine if we can legally do this,” Mayor Drew Ferguson IV said. “It’s the opinion of our legal counsel that this is not permissible.”
Ferguson said the city would either have to get authority from the General Assembly to put up the gates, or donate the streets to the housing authority. There is little interest in doing either.
In other news, a proposed police review board could wind up looking entirely different from what was proposed earlier this year.
Council had included the formation of the committee in a resolution approving the police department’s use of Tasers earlier this year, but had never quite come to terms with how the committee should look or what would be its responsibilities. The disagreement came to a head earlier this month when council split down the middle on a vote to officially form the group.
Councilman Ben Wilcox is one of two council members who has been against the review committee from the beginning. On Tuesday, he said he would vote for a formal law enforcement review of all incidents involving use of force – particularly Tasers – if the “citizen” part of the review board was dropped. In the law enforcement review, the city would use an outside agency like the Georgia Sheriff’s Association or Georgia Chiefs of Police to review incidents.
No one objected to dropping the citizen’s review board at Tuesday night’s work session. Council has one more work session on Oct. 4 to discuss the issue before voting again Oct. 8.
Council also is looking at a new proposal from the police department to outsource its city jail population to the Troup County Jail or Harris County Jail, depending on which part of the city the offense occurred. The move is being considered to save money and decrease the city’s liability. West Point is the last city in Troup County to use its own jail.
It would cost about $40 to house an inmate at either county jail. Police Capt. Robert Fawley said it costs West Point $18 a day just to feed an inmate at the city jail and the city is responsible for untold man hours and the medical needs of all inmates. One recently required an evaluation at the hospital that cost $2,000.
The city is looking at taking its inmates to Troup County Jail and using an ankle monitoring program for those who have committed lesser offenses. Ankle monitors cost about $10 a day and that cost is eventually paid by the offender or the court system.