PILOT MOUNTAIN — The need for an additional police officer dominated much of a recent budget meeting held by the town’s board of commissioners.
According to Commissioner Kim Quinn, the police department has made the request for two years in a row.
“I feel like this is a step in the right direction,” explained Quinn. “If we want to build a greenway and make our residents feel safe, we need this.”
In the proposed 2017-18 fiscal year budget, to be approved on June 12, Town Manager Michael Boaz added a full-time position for the Pilot Mountain Police Department.
“This position will be full time and will be a split shift,” explained Boaz. “Essentially, this person will work during the busy time of day, and the busy hours at night.”
Commissioner Gary Bell was not completely sold on idea of hiring a new officer.
“I don’t see the need for it,” said Bell. “During our meetings every month, we get a department report. I only see three or four citations and two or three reports,” explained Bell.
Boaz explained that if the board votes to approve the new position, the difference monetarily was no different than the previous years budget. As the new position would not cost the town more money.
“We have had two officers retire this year,” explained Boaz. The police department does not intend to fill those positions.
“I think we need to do this if we want to see our town progress,” stated Evan Cockerham, the board’s newest Commissioner.
“If we want to bring people downtown, with this Main Street program and we want to make folks feel safe about the greenway project, we need that extra officer,” said Cockerham.
Quinn spoke of her own experience with the police department being understaffed. Quinn told the board of when her burglary alarm alerted her that someone had possibly broken into her home last summer.
“We had to wait outside with the officer until he had backup,” said Quinn. “They had to call someone in who was off-duty,” explained Quinn.
Cockerham added that he felt that was unacceptable. “I feel confident about this and feel like it is a need in the community.”
The board will make a final decision on whether or not the position will be approved at next month’s board meeting. The meeting will take place at Town Hall on June 12, with a public hearing taking place at 6:30 p.m., the regular board meeting will take place at 7 p.m.