Council signs off on one, looks to budget for another
The town of Indian Trail will add one deputy now and consider adding another during budget sessions this year. Council members voted unanimously Tuesday, Feb. 14 for the motion, after discussions over how many to add and how the deputies would be paid for.
“My idea would be to bring one officer on now and bring a second officer on in October,” Mayor Pro Tem David Cohn said, after hearing that Lt. Chase Coble plans to apply for a grant with the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. “Hire one now and budget for two. If we don’t get the grant, you still get your two officers.”
Coble explained that with support from the town, he planned to apply for a grant to fund two deputies, to work traffic in town. That would be in addition to the one already approved by council members. Overall, Coble wanted to reduce the workload for existing deputies, some of whom worked as many as 61 felony cases since January 1. That’s compared to an average of 21 on the other side of the county. Coble said he also wanted to prepare for the influx of people coming later this year.
“We just saw a movie theater on the screen tonight,” Coble said. “I’m trying to stay ahead of the eight ball.”
Other council members questioned the need for more officers, saying they felt residents were content with what they had.
“I’m all about boots on the ground, but I would really like to get into that budget (first),” council member Robert Allen said, asking the board to hold off on agreeing to a second deputy. “I’m seeing improved response times, residents satisfied with what they have. I think it’s a rush to judgment.”
Allen referred to the numbers Coble presented earlier this year, showing improved response times since the town added deputies in 2010. In 2009, deputies took an average of 11 minutes, 8 seconds to respond to a call. In 2011, that time fell to 9 minutes, 35 seconds.
Currently the town contracts for 18 total officers, including 16 deputies, a sergeant and Coble, who is in charge of Indian Trail’s detachment. Indian Trail hasn’t added any officers since 2010. Instead of the town adding deputies to handle the traffic and any situations coming from the Stone Theaters complex, Allen felt that developers should chip in.
Residents speaking during public comments and after the meeting said they felt law enforcement should take priority.
Amanda Faulkenberry spoke during the public comments section of the meeting, warning council members that companies wouldn’t relocate to a place they didn’t see as safe.
Her husband Michael Faulkenberry said after the meeting that he couldn’t understand where Allen was coming from. Adding that the town needs to plan ahead, before these projects open for business.
“(Things) are gonna change when that theater’s built.” Faulkenberry said. “If Allen wants to move (the town) forward, he needs to be proactive.”
Town manager Joe Fivas mentioned that Stone Theaters had discussed hiring off duty deputies, but multiple council members pointed out there’s a difference between security and paroling the neighborhood impacted by the theater, enforcing town
Coble said it would take two to three months before the new deputy was responding to calls, as equipment would have to be purchased. Additionally, Coble will submit a pre-application for the grant funding in March, then follow it up with the full application. The state will announce grant winners in October.