Chief of Police Jody Matthews took center stage at Wednesday afternoon’s Euharlee City Council work session meeting, where he went over numerous proposals to revise departmental policies.
“There was not a lot of room for growth in that policy, so that’s one thing I’m big about and I think I’ve made that pretty clear since I’ve been here,” he said. “I want to set the department up for growth and try to get ahead of the curve before the City grows any further, that we’re prepared for that growth.”
The Euharlee Police Department, he said, received an audit from a liability insurance provider in December. On the whole, Matthews said the results were positive, “but there were some places where they made some recommendations that we make changes to the policy.”
One major revision is the complete reorganization of the local police force, which Matthews wants to see halved into two bureaus — one for field operations and one constituting a specialized enforcement division.
“I put in a policy in hopes of one day having somebody attached to the Drug Task Force,” he said. “I’ve also brought up a recommendation, maybe in the future, of having a part-time quality of life, or code enforcement, officer.”
The policy rewrite also includes a new bicycle unit, which Matthews said will be a boon for the police department during community events like Food Truck Friday.
“It’s a great public tool for kids,” Matthews added. “They enjoy seeing things like that.”
He also said he wants to bring a full-time detective position to the department.
“That will certainly help us along the road of doing criminal investigations and some child crimes,” he said.
Matthews said the department has already purchased software to upload the new policies electronically, which is required as part of the State certification process. With the program in place, he said officers will be able to pull up policies on matters like pursuit and use-of-force on a smartphone app.
“It’s modern technology at its finest,” he said. “It is accessible to all the officers, the policies are always right there for them.”
Euharlee City Manager James Stephens noted that the current City budget does not accommodate the expenses associated with the policy changes — nor does he have any plans to recommend said changes during the 2020 period.
“I believe that certification and some other matters that I have spoken with the chief about, that is a top priority, higher than a code enforcement officer,” he said.
From there, the council voted unanimously to approve the department’s standard operating procedures, albeit without any provisions allocating funding for the revisions — or a timetable for when the policy changes would actually take effect.
Matthews wrapped up the presentation with an overview of the police department’s 2019 annual report data.
“We had 2,656 total calls for service, 637 total case and incident reports, 52 total accident reports, 54 total arrest reports, 1,053 total traffic stops, we had 480 citations and 597 warnings for a total of 1,077,” he said.
All of the City’s police personnel, Matthews said, also underwent Narcan training last year, with each officer on the force receiving two vials of the drug commonly used to reverse the effects of potentially lethal overdoses.
At least one sergeant, Matthews said, has already used up both allotments.
"So we intend to try to keep that training yearly, to get the Narcan going," Matthews added. "Because they do expire, I think, after two years."