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Walthourville council split on police department
Daisy Pray
Mayor Daisy Pray
A police department is coming to Walthourville, according to Mayor Daisy Pray.

She wants the public to know her city's impending police department is not on hold, even though some councilmembers seem to want more evaluation about its feasibility before going forward.

"I have looked long and hard at the issues and costs involved in creating a police department for the city, and prepared a budget and action plan for the council's review," Pray said in a written statement.

According to the minutes from the city's Dec. 1 budget hearing, a motion to start a police department passed. The minutes also indicated funds of $281,172 were approved for the start-up.

The meeting's draft minutes show councilmember Patricia Green asked for a vote.

Green and councilmember Charlie Anderson Sr. voted in favor, with Mayor Pro Tem Larry Baker and councilmembers Luciria Lovette and James Hendry abstaining.

However, it is uncertain whether the vote passed.

"I don't know where we are right now. We're just at a standstill," Anderson said.

According to Green, the vote passed because Hendry had the only abstaining vote and Baker and Lovette did not say anything.

"They didn't say ‘yea,' and they didn't say ‘nay,'" Green said.

Baker, elected to the council in 1999, did not recant his original statement.

"I'm on the stage that the police department is on hold," Baker said. "From my understanding, there was not a vote to go ahead."

Hendry felt the same.

"I told them from the top that I was against that," Hendry said. "As far as I know, the council voted against it."

Hendry recalled when a former mayor, Henry Frasier, brought the police department issue before the council.

"We didn't have the finances (then), and we didn't have means to support our own police department," he said. "Now's not a good time."

In her written statement, Pray explained the city council voted in 1997 to approve an ordinance to go ahead with a police department independent of the Liberty County Sheriff's Department.

"This ordinance has never been repealed, though the city subsequently contracted with the Liberty County Sheriff's Department for police protection," Pray wrote.

Baker said there is no specific reason why a working police department has not been created since the 1997 vote.

"We need to update all of our ordinances, so we can be on the same sheet of music," Baker said.

Green also wants to see more agreement.

"The only thing I say is we all need to be on one accord," Green said. "You have to work together, that's all there is to it."

She was on the council when the ordinance was set.

"We voted in 1997 but we never did get the funding for it," Green said.

The city entered a contract with the county in 1996 for police protection.

"We can fund our police department because we're already doing that with the county," Green said.

She said she felt the city needs its own law enforcement.

"I've spoken with citizens and a lot of the citizens - they're ready for it," Green said. "We're the second largest municipality in Liberty County, and it's a time for a change."

"As I'm aware, right now we are going ahead with the police department," Green said. "We're going to go ahead and get our chief. ..."

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