Future of Fairfield police still unknown amid city financial crisis

Future of Fairfield police still unknown amid city financial crisis

FAIRFIELD, AL (WBRC) - Will Fairfield keep it's police officers or not? That's the debate in the city Monday night.

Mayor Kenneth Coachman said yes, while City Council President Darnell Gardner said no.

A letter sent by an attorney representing the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office hoped to clear the issue.

In the letter sent by Attorney Jay Murrill of Riley and Jackson Attorneys, it states Mayor Kenneth Coachman is the appointing authority for the city of Fairfield and, therefore, the only person that can make requests for contracts within the confines of the personnel board.

Mayor Coachman read the letter in Monday's City Council meeting.

"It's on the personnel board's minutes," he said. "It's in their rules and that's what been following."

The letter was dated March 30, 2016 and addressed to council president Darnell Gardner, but Gardner said he only received an email copy of the letter Friday, April 1.
Gardner said the letter which was addressed to him was a political ploy.

Gardner said this isn't about power it's about saving the city some money.

"It's about right and wrong," he said. "It's about right-sizing this city so we can move forward. We have too many employees, we're going to have to do some cuts."

The council voted in March to dissolve the police department, effective April 1.

Gardner said hiring a dozen deputies could save the city millions.

"We can bring in at least 12 county sheriffs for around $1.2 million," he said. "Right now we're paying pretty close to $3 million in
our police department. Is that not a savings? Huh? That'd take a whole lot of weight off of this city."

Gardner said the council was working to negotiate contracts with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, but in Murrill's letter it states the Jefferson County Sheriff'sOffice isn't in a position to assume the police services for the city of Fairfield and will not be in a position to do so until the City of Fairfield seeks and receives the proper authority from the Personnel Board of Jefferson County,.

Coachman said the letter from Murrill solidifies what he's said all along and hopefully the city could finally put this issue to bed about the city's police department.

"It's not been a secret for my administration that we are financially dry so we just have to make it with what we have. And that's what we're doing,"
he said.

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