CHEROKEE, Ala. (WAFF) - Police in Cherokee are facing a staffing issue that may not have a quick fix.
Our news partners at The Times Daily were in attendance Tuesday when Police Chief Billy Jefferson addressed the town council with concerns about the sudden exit of more than half his department.
Police officers Channing Goss and the department’s investigator Matt Senkbeil resigned effective Tuesday. Both are leaving for jobs in other area police departments. Council members then accepted the resignation of the department’s canine officer Clay Wilson, who Mayor Terry Cosby had placed on paid administrative leave last month.
The council approved the posting of two officer positions, but the hiring of a third officer is still in question.
Among Jefferson’s concerns is the recent elimination of overtime for the department. Cosby cut out overtime pay for police in recent weeks. Even with four police officers, it was difficult to manage adequate coverage for the town.
Council President Pro Tem Paul Norman is a former police chief in Cherokee He said the situation with only two officers is less than ideal.
“Until we can get officers hired, we’ll have to rely on part-time, call-in officers and get help from the Colbert County Sheriff’s Department, who’ll help in answering as many calls as possible,” Norman said.
Councilwoman Sandi Hendrix said she doesn’t see any way around allowing overtime again.
“I’m totally in favor of adding the overtime, as it will be absolutely necessary, at least until we get some new officers hired,” she said.
Norman said he doesn’t know if overtime will be reinstated.
“We’re waiting to see what the mayor wants to do about it.”
In the mean time, Norman stressed that he doesn’t want anyone to think the town is unprotected.
“It’s not like we’re going to be without police,” he said. “We’ll do what we have to do to have coverage.”