Committee Considers Dual Chiefs

March 31, 2003
Posted at: 10:17 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, Ark. -- Members of the Jonesboro Public Safety Committee are trying to decide if the Public Safety Director's position currently held by Floyd Johnson should be split into two.

Public Safety Committee Director Chris Moore is just one of many committee members who feel the time has come for a change in how Jonesboro's Police and Fire departments are managed.

"We have an assistant chief who runs the Police Department and an assistant chief who runs the Fire Department," Moore said. "They're not being paid in accordance to their job description."

According to Jonesboro Mayor Hubert Brodell, Johnson's position was created after friction arose between the Police and Fire chiefs over who would run the city's 911 emergency center.

"I was contacted as I campaigned by various citizens who specifically asked," committee member John Street said. "They didn't understand why we deviated from the chief-chief situation."

"The position, however you describe it is one of recognition," committeeman Jim Hargis said. "We have a leadership situation, but we maybe don't have the recognition that goes with it."

One member of the fire department spoke of how he's not against a public safety director, but does think more positions need to be added.

"We have a training captain that is so over-burdened with responsibilities that he can't perform any training. He just does his best to coordinate it. We have a fire marshall that does payroll, along with many other duties."

The changes in the departments, if they come, will come at a price.

"Just a rough estimate, when you count salary and benefits, and if you're hiring from outside. It could cost us another $73,000 to $93,000 a year," Susan Hackney said.

Leaders of 11 cities with populations ranging from 183,000 to 27,000 were surveyed to get the results. Consultants have also been contacted to help decide what's best for the city and its' residents.

City Finance and Administration Committee members will decide which consultant to use in the next three to four weeks. All of the consultants contacted say it will take three to four months for them to review paperwork and come back with suggested action.