Citizens voice concerns about LPD

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 6, 2007

LINDEN &8212; A delegation of approximately 20 Linden residents spoke to the City Council Tuesday concerning recent incidents involving city police officers, saying police have unfairly harassed them.

Georgia Gray, a spokesperson for the group, claimed there have been numerous instances of police using profanity around neighborhood children in the area around MLK Drive and Fourth Street. She claims officers have also been patrolling streets asking people to vacate private property, and there is an increased police presence in certain areas.

Interim Police Chief Scott McClure said officers are dispatched as they are called, but the department does have a contract with the owners of Linden Housing Authority, Hillcrest Apartments and Linden Park Apartments to patrol regularly and enforce a curfew.

Speed said the number of windows he has had to replace has been greatly reduced since the policy was introduced.

Dorothy Watters, the on-site manager for Hillcrest Apartments, said she has a similar contract with the police, asking them to patrol and keep people from loitering after curfew.

Other charges brought up were incidents of specific officers using profanity around children.

McClure said on one occasion he personally witnessed the use of profanity and the incident was handled before a complaint was made and prior to the council meeting.

In reference to the other charges, McClure said, &8220;I don&8217;t consider a police officer doing his job to be harassment.&8221;

After hearing the concerns of the delegation, Butch King, mayor pro tem, said the council would look into it. After their regular meeting, the council went into executive session to discuss &8220;good name and character.&8221;

After 30 minutes of executive session, accompanied by McClure, the council took no action.

Other issues discussed in the regular session of the meeting included a report from Councilman William Curry and King on their Aug. 21 trip to Montgomery with the Black Belt Mayor&8217;s group, who met with Gov. Bob Riley.

Just some of the things the group discussed, Curry said, were the construction of the bypass and a program called No Child Left Offline, which is based on a program in Kentucky that allows Internet access anywhere in the state.

The council also discussed the demolition of the old skating rink, a property owned by the Howerton family.

According to City Attorney Woody Dinning, an ordinance two years ago authorizes the city to do any kind of work on a property, they deem a neccesary and, if the owner is unable to repay the cost of the project, the city can recoup on the value of the land.

Dinning and City Administrator Cheryl Hall have been looking into quotes on the costs of demolition and removal, and the owners say they are unable to fund those endeavors at this time.

One option, Dinning said, is to have the city do the work and extend a 12 to 24-month repayment period to the owners.

Curry made a motion for the city to undertake the demolition and removal work and recommend a two-year period of time for the Howertons to repay the cost of the project. The motion passed unanimously.