Sheriff Mark Pettway holds public safety meeting in Fairfield amid takeover

Community weighs in on police patrol change

FARIFIELD, Ala. (WBRC) - The city of Fairfield announced Friday a partnership with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to take over public safety.

The contract assigns dedicated JCSO deputies to Fairfield. The number of deputies has not been determined but the city of Fairfield will pay for each deputy’s overtime and healthcare cost. The contract also assigns all criminal cases to the JCSO.

It’s a decision by city leaders residents WBRC spoke to were happy about.

“We need this. As you know we just had a murder on Thursday. They started Monday officially and we had a murder Thursday. So they see the dire need that we are in for police right now,” said resident Gloria Matthews.

Matthews has lived in Fairfield for more than 30 years at one point she served on city council.

Matthews said a lack of enforcement has caused the city to become a hotbed for crime.

“Want to come in and sell dope? Whatever you want to do. Fairfield was the spot because of the police that we had,” claimed Matthews.

Another neighbor, Jeffery Speigner, agreed.

“I just hope it gets back to the way it was 10 to 15 years ago,” said Speigner.

Speigner is a former Birmingham fireman but Fairfield resident. He said he is hopeful for the future.

“I think it’s a good thing [the partnership with JCSO]. I think the city needs all the help it can get,” said Speigner.

Public safety has been an ongoing concern for Fairfield’s Mayor Eddie Penny who has claimed he had to shutter or scale-back other programs to afford pay rolling first responders.

With the Fairfield/JCSO partnership, the financially strapped city will keep a portion of its current police force, including chief Nick Dyer, freeing up funds and getting the city added protection.

“With the county taking over, I feel a little peace in my heart and I really am thankful that they stepped in,” exclaimed Matthews. “All I can do is thank God and hope that it makes a difference.”

Sheriff Mark Pettway will hold a public safety town hall meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Fairfield Civic Center.

Fairfield city leaders will also be there to answer any questions the community may have about the partnership.

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