Police concerns main subject of Aberdeen aldermen meeting

By Carolyn Parson
For the Monroe Journal
ABERDEEN – Citizen input set the tone for the Jan. 15 board of aldermen meeting.
With citizen input the first item on the agenda, real estate agent, Marsha Ballard informed the board of several break-ins at the homes of some of her recent home buyers. Ballard expressed concern regarding new people coming into Aberdeen while retaining the ones who recently bought houses here.
“We work so hard to get people to move here and we need to keep them safe,” said Ballard, who explained her only interest was making elected officials aware of the problem.
Ballard’s remarks sparked a lively discussion of law enforcement. Bishop Sacus made comments about the reports of noise on North Thayer Avenue around the skating rink during the holidays and noted that calls to the police department did not result in any police response.
Aberdeen Chief of Police Henry Randle defended the actions of the police department. According to Randle, the police are responding to citizens’ calls and are doing everything possible under the law to address the issues.
Randle noted that so many of the offenses are committed by juveniles and that state law makes it harder to prosecute and incarcerate them.
“These are juveniles and the law does not allow us to hold juveniles, as soon as we arrest them, parents come down and bail them out and they are back on the streets,” Randle said.
Randle asked the board to consider stricter curfews and higher fines to help with the problem, but no action was taken.
On another topic, Randle informed the board that he now has enough signatures from Aberdeen citizens in support of retaining the process of electing the city’s police chief. The board voted in November to change the town’s charter to appoint the police chief position through the application process as opposed to electing a chief.
The 847 signatures received are more than the 10 percent required. City clerk Jackie Benson is in the process of verifying the signatures.
Now that at least 10 percent of the citizens have signed the petition, the petitions will be sent to the governor and the city will be informed of the state’s response.
Meanwhile, Mayor Belle assured citizens that all complaints and issues called into the his office, will be investigated by the appropriate departments.
In other business, the board approved the following employee enhancements:
-The mayor to attend a water board meeting.
-The mayor, board of aldermen, city clerk and city attorney to attend the Mississippi Municipalities League conference.
-Jackie Benson to attend IIMC in New Jersey, which is partially funded by a scholarship.
-The mayor to attend youth council in Hattiesburg.
-Aberdeen police officer Brandon Davidson to attend police training in Meridian.
-Chief Henry Randle to attend CrimeStoppers in Biloxi.
-The mayor and building inspector David Low to attend the Affordable Housing Conference in Biloxi.
-Samona Johnson to attend a leadership workshop in Nashville.
-Tina Robbins to attend a festival planning workshop in Philadelphia.

About Ray Van Dusen

I've been with the Monroe Journal since Aug. 2009 as a staff writer, but took the role as news editor in late 2012. I'm always looking for interesting story ideas from around Monroe County. You can reach me via email at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.
  • Mike Owen

    Lots of “Attending” by elected officials.