East Brewton to seek AG opinion on police merger

Published 11:19 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The East Brewton City Council voted Monday to seek an attorney general’s opinion on whether merging its police department with Brewton’s is legal.

The issue has come up in recent weeks, likely as a money-saving option for the smaller community.

Councilman Ned Sibert suggested the city request an opinion from Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange in relation to the matter of a possible merger.

“I think it would be in our best interest to ask for his opinion,” Sibert said.

Mayor Terry Clark and the council agreed the opinion would be the next step in the study concerning a possible merger of the departments.

“We need to see if it’s even legal,” Clark said. “We will get a request for an opinion sent up as soon as possible.”

An attorney for the Alabama League of Municipalities had previously told The Brewton Standard that such a merger is legal. If the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department were to take over law enforcement protection, however, that would require passage of a law in the state Legislature.

Also during Monday’s meeting of the council, two residents voiced their opinion on the possibility of a merger of the two police departments.

Greg Fleming of Brewton said he does not think a merger would be in the best interest of the citizens of East Brewton, citing his problems within the Brewton Police Department.

“Brewton has a hard enough time getting service over there,” Fleming said. “I don’t know how they could serve the people over here. I’m from Brewton and I know you’ve got a good department over here.”

Fleming said the response from East Brewton’s police force had given him cause to praise for their work.

“I own rental property in East Brewton and there have been some drug problems there,” Fleming said. “When I called East Brewton police to respond, they have gone above and beyond their duty. Chief Brazile and Officer Clausell have racked up some drug busts. You have a good department here and I would had for you to lose that.”

John Pence of East Brewton called for more money for East Brewton police.

“The calls Kenny (Brazile) and Clausell have answered have ended in drug busts,” Pence said. “You are just not going to get the same response from Brewton that you get from East Brewton. If it takes more money to hire more officers and keep East Brewton going, then there needs to be a way to do that.”

Clark thanked both men for speaking up at the meeting and assured them the matter was still only being considered.

“We are still studying this possibility,” Clark said. “We will continue moving forward with that study to see where we stand.”

Clark said an official letter requesting the opinion of the Alabama attorney general in the matter of a departmental merger would be submitted this week.