Cornersville rejects cell phones for police

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A citizen's request to be able to summon a police officer by calling a town-supplied cell phone was unanimously rejected by the Cornersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week.

Robert Pugh of North Main Street spoke at least once during the public comment portion of earlier town meetings, stating he thought it would be beneficial for Cornersville residents to be able to call their policemen directly, by cell phone, rather than going through Marshall County dispatch.

Sgt. David McVey was asked to look into the matter, and prepared a one-and-a-half page report for the BOMA and citizens, detailing the reasons against using a cell phone for contacting police.

McVey's research included calling Rex Barton of the Tennessee Municipal League Insurance.

"There is nowhere else in the State of Tennessee that uses a cell phone to dispatch their officers," Barton reportedly told McVey. Barton went on to strongly discourage use of a cell phone for liability reasons, stating the town was opening itself up for a lawsuit and a possible loss of its TML insurance.

Other reasons for sticking with the current system of having Cornersville residents dial 911 in case of emergency include the fact that the dispatchers have the proper training to handle calls for the safety of both officers and the public, and have the ability to quickly contact and dispatch whichever emergency service, or combination of services, is needed.

Marshall County dispatch is also able to track cell and landline phone calls to their exact location, ensuring the quickest response time. Furthermore, all calls are recorded, providing vital evidence in case of any problems. And finally, everyone who has a phone is already paying a fee for the 911 service as part of his or her phone bill.

Alderman Lezlie Calahan moved to "leave it like it is," and this was unanimously approved by a 4-0 vote. (Alderman Sheryl McClintock was absent.)

Moving on to other business, Town Administrator Taylor Brandon reported that the town's request for a crossing guard at the elementary school had been approved by the school board, and a guard was now working in front of the school morning and afternoon.

"That's a big positive for us," Brandon said. At the high school, he stated Sheriff Norman Dalton did not want the School Resource Officer directing traffic.

"He's very adamant about it," Brandon said.

Brandon also said a grant application for playground equipment for the town park had been approved.

Another grant obtained by the town was $5,000 for a Crime Stoppers program and reward, and this kicked off with an event in the park Saturday afternoon.