Charleston PD is now fully staffed

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 7/11/18

The Charleston Police Department is now fully staffed, after an extended period when manpower was limited.Charleston Mayor Walter Goode shared the announcement at Tuesday evening's Commission meeting …

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Charleston PD is now fully staffed

Posted

The Charleston Police Department is now fully staffed, after an extended period when manpower was limited.

Charleston Mayor Walter Goode shared the announcement at Tuesday evening's Commission meeting from Police Chief Johnny Stokes, saying the department now has three full-time officers.

Stokes has filled a vacancy with the hiring of Michael Strope of Athens. He added that Strope is an experienced law enforcement officer.

Last month, Stokes announced his other staff member, David Spandau, had returned from medical leave.

In addition to the completion of staffing needs, the Charleston Police Department is also exploring the possibility of upgrading its communication system, piggybacking onto the new Bradley County 911 CAD communication upgrades.

Sherry Maxfield, Bradley County's new 911 director, attended Tuesday's meeting in Charleston to update commissioners on this opportunity, and to clear up some some concerns about 911 calls from the north end of the county.

Recently, an emergency call from the Charleston area was sent to Athens, before being transferred to Bradley County.

Demetrius Ramsey, director of the county's Community Service Agency, had made the call from near the Hoyt Berry City Park in downtown Charleston, adding  that the responders had problems finding the location.

Maxfield said the routing problem is something the 911 Center has to deal with from time to time.

She said the 911 Center has received misdirected calls from all along the county's borders. "In addition to this area, we've received calls from Whitfield and Murray counties in North Georgia," she said. 

"We've been told that the errant calls sometimes occur according to which side of the cell tower the call originates," Maxfield said.

She also said the 911 staff attempts to pinpoint the location of 911 calls as best they can.

The 911 director also discussed the CAD upgrades her agency is initiating, and she has provided Chief Stokes with an estimate of costs, if Charleston were to sign on.

The initial cost would be around $4,000, with a much smaller annual fee.

The upgraded service will allow Charleston officers to receive calls in their vehicles, and also to listen to calls to other law enforcement agencies in the area.

The Cleveland Police Department, and Bradley County Sheriff's Office, are connecting to the new system.

Maxfield said Cleveland officers have been trained, and county deputies having training this week. She added that the conversion is much easier for the city officers, since they are provided smart phones, which can connect to the new, information-friendly  system. County deputies are not provided smart phones.

She emphasized training for Charleston officers can be accomplished in  house, since there are only three officers. 

Charleston Commission members have not yet approved the upgraded communication service.

In other Commission business:

• Commissioner Frankie McCartney made a motion, which was approved, that the city provide another dumpster to city residents this fall for yard waste and debris. 

His suggestion was warmly received by Goode, but Commissioner Donna McDermott was not able to attend Tuesday's meeting.

A dumpster was provided for residents recently, which was used extensively.

Dates for the availability of the dumpster have not yet been determined, but will be publicized.

• Charleston's 2018-19 budget was approved at two recent called meetings. Minutes from those meetings, and last month's regular meeting, were approved Tuesday.

• The city's tractor and mowing attachment have been repaired and are in operation. Goode said Street and Maintenance Supervisor Melvin Graham has been using the repaired equipment.

The city's half-ton truck has not yet been repaired.  Goode and Graham approved a motion that repair work be completed as soon as possible.

• The commission is planning some upgrades to the city cemetery, and will be calling on community churches to assist.

Letters to the churches have not yet been mailed, so there has been no response to the request.

• Goode and  McCartney approved a motion for a new sign to be placed at the entrance to Hoyt Berry Park from Worth Street.

They also approved a plan for a mural to be painted on the east side of the park's restrooms.

Charleston resident Allen Martin later suggested the city hold a mural design contest for Charleston students.

Mayor Goode said he had thought about a mural theme to go along with the community's new Historical Trail, but agreed that involving the students is a good idea. 

• Goode and McCartney approved a resolution for Charleston to be included in Bradley County's 2017 hazard plan. This plans includes natural disasterssuch as violent storms, tornadoes and flooding, as well as other community emergencies.

• The commissioners also approved the city's participation in a $500 matching grant for the coming year for safety items for the city.  

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