What mystical powder or elixir anoints our elected officials with the knowledge contained in the Encyclopedia Britannica and all the experience amassed by mankind since Adam and Eve? Apparently, the substance — whatever it is — imparts this knowledge and experience within the first 30 seconds of being sworn into office.
I understand that perhaps Midway Councilman Stanley Brown felt he was more knowledgeable about law enforcement than Midway’s senior police officers, who’ve amassed over 30 years of experience. Apparently, Brown has been vocal in his belief that there is no reason for the officers to leave city limits. He thinks the Midway Police Department’s standard operating procedures are outdated (having last been done April 1, 2009), and he is just the individual to rewrite them.
I learned that the senior police officers repeatedly attempted to explain to Brown their rationale, the (federal, state, county and city) laws of mutual aid within law enforcement and the consequences of his position on the subject, but he was not receptive. He reportedly said he was certain the city council would support his position. I understand it took Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes appearing before the Midway City Council in December to convince Brown that his position was not acceptable.
Let’s look at some of the consequences of Brown’s proposed changes. Midway relies on Liberty County for extensive support, jail facilities, detective support, probation services and a host of others. When The Heritage Bank was robbed, Liberty County, Georgia State Patrol and the FBI responded. The Midway shootout that occurred a few years back did not just involve Midway police — county and state authorities backed up our valiant officers. When Midway police are tied up with a call, Liberty County deputies respond to cover additional calls and vice versa. If Midway is isolated, how can we expect this continued support from other agencies?
The recorded minutes of the Jan. 12, 2015, meeting note that Brown voted against hiring a police officer to fill a vacancy created by a resignation. The position already was funded in the 2015 budget. While Midway Chief Kelli Morningstar was presenting her request to hire an officer, Brown said she did not need another officer as the Midway police don’t do anything. All the citizens present made comments in support of the police.
Prior to Morningstar’s arrival on the force, a current councilman and a former council member wrote the standard operating procedures in cooperation with the former chief, but never finished. Morningstar successfully rewrote the procedures in compliance with federal and state directives after her appointment.
Perhaps Brown’s energy and time would be better spent investigating why changes have not been posted to the city ordinances since Feb. 12, 1989; why the city’s personnel policy manual has not been updated since 1993 and still reads “City of Riceboro” throughout; why the city insists the transient-merchant license fee is $50 per day up to $1,000 when section 7-2-2 of the ordinance mandates a one-time fee of $7?
All of those issues fall under the city clerk’s umbrella of responsibility. Why have those concerns not been addressed? Yes, Councilman Brown, there are a great many other issues for you to champion.
I can’t speak for all Midway citizens, but for my money, I want the amateurs on our Midway City Council to leave our citizens’ protection in the hands of our police professionals.