Mayor Todd Depriest told the Jenkins City Council at its August meeting this week that the city has worked out an agreement with the Jenkins Independent Schools System to provide a school safety officer to Jenkins Schools.
Depriest said the resource officer will be a trained police officer who will divide his time between the Jenkins Middle High School and Burdine Elementary School campuses, and will be available to the city in the summer when school is not in session or in emergencies. The school system will cover the officer’s salary and benefits and the city will provide equipment and a vehicle. Depriest said the city is still interviewing candidates for the position.
In a related matter, Jenkins City Police officers have all received an upgrade in technology that will protect the officers as well as the public.
Jenkins Police Chief Josh Richardson showed the council a new body camera manufactured by Trinity Systems that has a 270-degree viewing capability and downloads to a laptop that then sends the video footage straight to the ”Cloud”, where it can be accessed by both prosecution and defense attorneys.
The Cloud is a term used for massive on-line computer servers maintained by technology companies like Apple and Amazon to store and preserve information that would otherwise take up all the room on individual hard drives.
Richardson said he usually wears his camera on his belt but there are a number of other points on an officer’s uniform where it can be attached, according to the officer’s preference.
Body cameras have come into use lately as a tool to not only protect the public from unnecessarily harsh measures from police, but to protect police officers from false accusations of brutality from the public. In the March 2017 webcast of “government technology”, Chief Deputy Prosecutor of Monroe County (Bloomington), Ind., Bob Miller was quoted saying, “There is simply no better evidence of what occurs during a police-citizen encounter than video of the event.”
The council also voted to keep the same tax rate of $.3499 per $100 (34.99 cents per $100) of real property and for watercraft and motor vehicles. Mayor Todd Depriest told the council that it would be a bad time to raise taxes and the council voted unanimously to keep the property tax rate. However, Councilman Rick Damron voted against keeping the motor vehicle and watercraft rate, saying that when the city’s occupational tax had been passed in 2012, the council had expressed a desire to lower other tax rates. The motion passed by a margin of six to one. Damron said if everyone would pay their property taxes and delinquent taxes, the motor vehicle tax might not be necessary.
The meeting was notably shorter than the two previous meetings when a contingent of Dunham residents had attended to protest a stop sign on the main street in Dunham. At last month’s meeting, the council voted to replace the sign. Depriest said he has spoken to representatives of the Kentucky Department of Transportation (DOT) who told him the sign will be replaced with a sign warning motorists to drive slowly. He said it should be in place by the end of August.
Councilmember Rebecca Amburgey added that the city needs to address the water problem in Dunham caused by stopped up culverts. Depriest said that he has spoken to the highway department and county officials and asked for help in replacing the culverts. He added that the heavy rains that have hit Letcher County this summer have exacerbated the situation.
Depriest said he has discussed the “slick spot” on US 119 North that have been blamed for several serious wrecks with the DOT. The spot is located just below the runaway truck ramp on the downhill side of US 119, and although no actual cause has been determined, it tends to be more slippery than most places on the road in wet weather. Depriest said he was told that when the road is repaved, the highway department will use a rougher surface in that area to try to improve traction. Signs with flashing lights also warn motorists to slow down.
Depriest reminded the council that the Jenkins Days Homecoming Festival will be held August 23-25 and said that there will be a prize for the best decorated tent. He also asked the council to consider the possibility of allowing a yard sale/flea market to be held on Friday afternoons in the city park to attract visitors, and said that the events would only be allowed if nothing else is planned. Rebecca Amburgey said that the participants would have to be made aware that they will have to clean up their sites.
The Jenkins Police Department responded to 46 service calls in July, and made 18 arrests. Two arrests were for DUI, two were related to domestic violence, and four were drug related. The department also issued 10 citations, served eight warrants, one summons, and 12 warnings. City officers responded to four vehicle collisions with injury and three without injury. They also made one motorist assist.
The council also passed Budget Amendment 249-A, which included accepting a grant of $29,780 that pays for a new police cruiser, and Fire Department Grants for $141,715 for air packs for breathing apparatus for firefighters.
The city manufactured 11,745,000 gallons of treated water in July and sold 9,794,000 gallons, for a difference of 1,951,000, or a potential loss of 17 percent.