The Wheelwright City Commission unanimously approved establishing an auxiliary police force made up of volunteers who will provide law enforcement services in the city.
During a Jan. 9 meeting, the commission approved the second reading of an ordinance establishing a three-person auxiliary police force.
Police Officer Keith Justice suggested creating the program after he was hired last August, reporting that at least two retired Kentucky State Police troopers are interested in volunteering in Wheelwright. He explained the former troopers are willing to volunteer in order to keep their training requirements up to date.
“We’ve got a limited amount of coverage right now,” Justice said after the meeting. “I only work around 40 hours a week and I think there’s like 163 hours in a week, so that’s a lot of time that the city’s not covered. If we can just get some people that are already trained and certified, who want to keep their certification and help us out a little, it’s a win for everybody.”
Justice, a former KSP Commercial Vehicle officer, said he volunteered in Elkhorn City after he retired to keep his own certification current.
The officers have all powers of other police officers, the ordinance says, and they are personally responsible for keeping their training and certifications up to date.
Through the program, the volunteer officers will be working without pay, but the city agrees to provide liability insurance coverage for them while they are on duty. The officers will be supervised by the city police chief and the commissioner appointed to oversee the police department. The volunteer officers are required to adhere to the city’s personnel policy manual and code of ethics.
His or her term on the auxiliary police force will be indefinite, but he or she may be removed from duty by the chief, the police commissioner or removed by the mayor, temporarily, pending approval by the full commission.
During the meeting, commissioners gave Justice permission to inquire about leasing a new police vehicle. They also approved buying new tires for the police cruiser and a city vehicle, buying boots for Justice and a draft of a code and ordinance violation notice and list of fines that the city plans to include in an ordinance that’s being drafted for nuisances like abandoned vehicles, litter and unkempt grass.
Officials emphasized that the fines will not be imposed until the ordinance is finalized and approved by the commission. Commissioner Dana McCown abstained from the vote, saying he prefers to wait until the ordinance is finalized.
The ticket approved by the commission would impose $25 fines for illegally parked or inoperable vehicles, animals at large or animals defecating on property and “high grass or weeds” and $100 fine for littering, noise, disorderly conduct, “improper watering” and other things. Residents will pay these fines at city hall, the ticket says.
“This is a codes ordinance violation. This is like if you’ve got an old car sitting in your yard. I mean, now this is not talking about your vehicle you drive. Let’s get this straight before we get started here,” Mayor Don Hall said. “This is talking about a vehicle that sits in yard and probably has got no tires on it, no motor, no transmission; that is not capable of running. You will get it tagged by the fine gentleman standing over there in the black shirt; $25 is what it costs you if he tags your vehicle.”
Hall encouraged the commission to approve the draft ticket and the fines that will be listed in the ordinance.
“If that prison comes back, boys, you want to make this place nice for people to live, man, so people’s going to want to come here, get them a job and move in here,” he said. “Think about it.”
At the meeting, the commission heard another request from Fire Chief Daniel Gullett who said he refused to work in a building without heat. He said he requested that the heat be fixed in the building in November. The city commission called a special meeting in December on the topic, but there was no quorum. Hall reported he attended a meeting at the fire department in December and had to wear a coat, gloves and hat and he “liked to froze to death.”
Gullett presented a $1,200 estimate to replace the gas heater in the building, but Commissioner Andy Akers suggested buying one at Rural King for $400 and having it installed in house. The commission made a motion to allow Hall to get a new heater the “cheapest and best way possible,” but Hall refused, telling other commissioners to do it, voicing concerns that if he bought one, a commissioner would come back and say it was not the cheapest. Commissioners made a motion for Commissioner Sam Little to take care of the problem, but no vote was held on the matter and the discussion moved on to other topics.
In other news, the commission also:
•Approved the financial report and bills for November and December, showing the city had $33,000 in its general fund, $230,500 in the prison fund and $12,000 in road aid in December. Bills totaled about $23,000 in November and $28,000 in December.
•Gave a resident permission to remove dirt from a slip and use the dirt, with officials reporting that the Division of Abandoned Mine Lands have been contacted to repair the slip.
•Allowed the fire department to renew its 10-year FCC license for its communications repeater system, with officials reporting it will cost less than $200.
•Approved buying tires for a utility truck, with Hall reporting city utilities will reimburse the city.
•Approved paying an employee for two weeks of vacation in lieu of time off work.
•Approved installing a new ball goal in a city park.