Proposed Vehicle Policy Could Cause Issues For Dale County Commission They Do Not WantRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Feb 25 2013 6:37 PM
DALE COUNTY: In the Administrative Meeting or Pre-Meeting meeting of the Dale County Commission, a vehicle policy was discussed.
In the pre meeting the policy was briefly discussed. Commissioners discussed the posting of the policy for a two week period before the commission made a final decision.
In less than 30 minutes from the pre-meeting the regular meeting, there was a motion made to post the proposed vehicle policy for two weeks for the public and workforce along with the department heads to review. That decision died from the lack of a second.
While no action was taken it is expected the proposal or a modified version of the proposal will be addressed at the next meeting of the Dale County Commission.
The policy addresses “take home vehicle procedures” for the Dale County workforce. The policy also defines “non personal use of vehicles”. It addressed public safety or law enforcement.
The policy reads “clearly marked police, fire and public safety vehicles. The employee must be on call, required to commute in the vehicle, and be prohibited from personal travel outside the jurisdiction”.
The policy further reads “ unmarked vehicles used by law enforcement officers. The officer must be authorized to carry a firearm, execute search warrants and make arrests”. The policy goes on to read “public safety personnel permitted to use an individually assigned vehicle during the normal tour of duty may use the vehicle for commuting purposes in accordance with the department’s standard operating procedures as approved by the Dale County Commission”.
The Sheriff is a separate part from the Dale County Commission or any commission in the state. The personnel in the Sheriff Department work for the Sheriff. The Sheriff, as a constitutional officer, has an extreme amount of immunity. That immunity extends from the Sheriff to the deputies and jailers. That is the reason the Sheriff Department deputies and jailers are controlled by the Sheriff and not the county personnel board.
With that in mind, the Dale County Commission ( or any Commission in the state )has limited authority to dictate to the Sheriff how he can operate his department. While the county needs a vehicle policy, it is questionable that the Dale County Commission can dictate to the Sheriff who drives cars home and where they drive them.
In addition, in counties like Dale County where you have only 19 officers to include the Sheriff and Chief Deputy, having officers in their vehicles and available helps manage the protection of the residents of Dale County and it’s guests.
In addition, the policy reads “…prohibited from personal travel outside the jurisdiction”. A law enforcement officer in Alabama can make an arrest anywhere in the state. The person arrested has to be placed in the jail and court of the jurisdiction where the person is arrested.
Policies are good. However Dale County is a prime example of officers given liberal use of the vehicle allows manpower deployed in seconds in emergencies.
The Dale County Commission is expected to address this policy in the future.
The officer must be authorized to carry a firearm, execute search warrants and make arrests
Several years ago a Houston County Correctional Officer was transporting an inmate and was in Montgomery County. The correctional officer had a wreck which claimed the life of the inmate.
The Houston County Commission was very quick to say the vehicle and the correctional officer worked for the Sheriff and not the county commission. This meant the immunity of the Sheriff extended to the Correctional Officer and the Corrections Van.
Dale County’s new attempted policy could place liability on Dale County they now enjoy immunity from, most especially when addressing law enforcement, most especially the Sheriff Department.
The Sheriff if the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the county. The only authority a county commission has over the Sheriff is funding. And that funding is mandated by law to certian issues.