Petersburg, TN town officials push for 24/7 police department

WAFF 48's Romario Gardner reporting
Published: Jul. 6, 2023 at 10:44 PM CDT

PETERSBURG, Tenn. (WAFF) - The town of Petersburg is working on keeping its citizens safe around the clock.

During a town hall meeting, police chief Matthew Griffy alongside his sergeant presented a plan to obtain that goal to town aldermen and the mayor.

The two presented a three-phase system with an emphasis on increasing the current police pay from $17/hr to $22/hr.

“We want to give an officer just you know, a little cushion, a little comfort with the inflation and everything being the way that it is in the world to try to help them help support their families a little bit better,” said Griffy.

There are currently two full-time officers and one part-time officer.

Griffy said he wants to remove the part-time officer position in place of a full-time one.

During the meeting, he proposed the idea of what additional officers could mean for the future of the department’s financials.

This in turn could increase the amount of revenue generated through traffic citations. Some worry this could incentivize more stops, but Chief Griffy said that’s not the case.

“I do want to put out that there is no quota, said Griffy, “We’re not setting quotas, we’re not trying to get into people’s pockets. Essentially, if you’re not breaking the law, then you’re never really going to see us.”

Chief Griffy said the department’s autonomy would mean less of a burden on taxpayers, with more funds to go around, like the fire department.

Many residents like Linda Cagle believe the initiative is a win for her and other residents.

“I love it here and I want to stay here. I’ve been here 20 years and I want to feel safe,” said Cagle.

If an emergency happens outside of business hours, she would have to depend on either Marshall or Lincoln County sheriff deputies responding.

“If I call 911, they have to come from Lewisburg, which is about 15 miles, or Fayetteville which is probably around 15 miles. It takes a while to get here,” said Cagle, “And if I had the cops here maybe you know they could save somebody’s life.”

Mayor Randy McDonald believes the plan is just what his city needs.

“We are here for the citizens,” said McDonald, “So whatever is in their best interest is what’s in our best interest. We want people to be able to rest at night. You want them to be happy and feel safe in their homes. I mean where can you feel safe but in your home.”

The city will have a town hall meeting next Tuesday at 6 p.m. to set up an ordinance discussing the next steps for the police department.

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