A proposed ordinance that would have transferred the Quality of Life Division out of the Police Department’s control and created a separate department was tabled by a committee of the Pine Bluff City Council Wednesday. The proposal was sponsored by Alderman Steven Mays, a member of the Administration Committee, but he failed to convince Alderwoman Thelma Walker of the need for the ordinance.
“I’ve talked to Alderman Mays about this, and we’ve gone back and forth, but I told him that I could not support this at this time,” Walker said. “I think it’s a bad time.”
Mays said that the response times for the division have improved, and the department is getting grass cut and getting back to citizens in a timely manner.
“The department is better organized and Ms. (Evelyn) Horton is doing a great job,” Mays said. “Also there’s better communication and not a long drawn out hold-up like there was the last time.”
However, he said he believed “police need to be police.”
Committee Chairman Lloyd Holcomb Jr. said the issue has gone back and forth “like a ping pong ball” for the last two years.
“We need some conclusion to where we want it to be,” Holcomb said.
In December, 2016, the council voted to remove both the Quality of Life and Animal Control Departments from the police department and establish them as separate departments. Earlier this year, the council, with three new members, reversed themselves and put Quality of Life back under the Police Department’s umbrella. Animal Control was left as a separate department. Among his concerns, Mays said that there is only one inspector per ward and “down the road, there needs to be two.”
Mays agreed to tabling the ordinance but promised to bring it back up next year.
“Let things level out and we will see where we need to go,” Walker said.
In the only other committee business, a resolution restoring funding for a Purchasing Manager in the Executive Department will be sent to the City Council with a do-pass recommendation.
The resolution sets a salary of $55,000 plus benefits for the position, plus a three-percent raise that all city employees will receive. It is sponsored by Mays and aldermen Bruce Lockett and Donald Hatchett. Both Walker and Holcomb indicated that they wanted to add their names as sponsors.