Cedarville City Council members discussed the pros and cons of a ride-along program proposed by Cedarville Police Chief Donnie Threet during their regular meeting on Tuesday.
In a previous meeting, Threet asked aldermen to consider a civilian ride-along program with the purpose of fostering better relations with area residents.
Ride-along programs usually are arrangements in which a civilian spends a shift in the passenger seat of an emergency vehicle to observe the work day of a police officer or other emergency responder.
Aldermen discussed their thoughts on the program on Tuesday.
Threet and Alderman John Odom both said they had done informal surveys of residents on the topic to determine general attitudes. Threet questioned area business owners with mostly positive results, he said.
"From one end of town to the other end of town, they all said it was a wonderful idea," Threet said.
Odom’s results were more mixed, he said.
"Some were for it, some were definitely against it, no doubt about it," Odom said.
One of the main concerns about the program expressed by aldermen was safety.
Alderman Kenneth McClendon argued that while he had no problem with a city head or police trainee participating in a ride-along, civilians doing so were a cause for concern.
"The city is a business, and to me it’s an unwarranted risk," McClendon said. "It’s an avenue with too little to gain and too much can go wrong."
Threet disagreed, and said he did not think participating in the program would be any more unsafe than going to the grocery store, church or the movies.
"As of today, I’ve not heard of a civilian getting shot in a police car," Threet said.
Alderman Nina Prater was on the fence about the program, she said.
"I see the pros and cons - a lot of other communities do this and we haven’t heard of anything negative happening in those communities," Prater said. "And I agree we should foster a good relationship between the police and the community."
But Prater added that she has concerns about the liability of the city.
"The thought of having ride-alongs and having something bad happen during a ride-along makes me really nervous," Prater said.
McClendon pointed out that he did not see a problem in the current relationship between the Cedarville Police Department and the surrounding community, but Threet argued the relationship could be better.
City heads will pick up the discussion again when Alderman Tim Breshears, who was absent, would be able to contribute.
Also during the meeting, aldermen voted to reimburse Cedarville Fire Chief Jesse Hyatt $2,996 for a purchase of 15 air packs and bottles.
Hyatt had been approved to bid on 6 air packs for up to $1,700, but lost that bid, he said. When the 15 packs became available, Hyatt said "it was such a good deal" he used his own money to bid on and purchase the packs.
The air packs and bottles purchased by Hyatt are newer and of a better quality than the packs he was approved to bid on, he said.
Cedarville Mayor Mark Isenhower suggested selling some of the packs to Crawford County District 4 Fire Department if all packs were not needed by the city.