Stepping back in time
Back in 1981 the city and county decided two law enforcement agencies in one county wasn’t really the way to go. The city of Batesville was experiencing internal turmoil and after some consideration the two entities agreed on an interlocal contract aimed at the safety and security of all the residents of Independence County.
But that could change.
After years of working together history could be repeating itself and we could be heading back to where we came from.
We are talking about how a possible split of city and county law enforcement will take us back almost a quarter of a century.
Those who can remember those days always revert back to an unsolved murder case where both sides were fighting over jurisdiction.
Since the 1981 interlocal agreement there have been several wrinkles to iron out over the years, but for the most part things have worked well for both the city and county.
The city currently takes care of almost all dispatching and pays for whatever metro officers and vehicles they want to serve the city. The county houses all the inmates.
This time the problem is not between law enforcement but the county judge and mayor.
At the last quorum court meeting, Independence County Judge Robert Griffin brought up the idea of revisiting the need for additional revenue to help maintain costs at the county jail. His proposal would mean that even the smallest of incorporated cities (Sulphur Rock, Pleasant Plains, Oil Trough, Newark, Moorefield, Magness and Cushman) would pony up revenue. Some of the cities say it could potentially bankrupt them and the city of Batesville sees it as a slap in the face.
That immediately set up unofficial talks among Batesville officials about removing itself from the interlocal agreement and while right now there is only talk, there is a meeting of all the mayors set for Thursday to discuss the jail issue.
We understand Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh feels like the city is getting hit every time the issue comes up and no one will dispute the judge understands the bottom line when it comes to finances, but this could only make the gap wider between city and county government.
We also know that more county judges and mayors will be coming down the pike long after a decision of this magnitude is made.
This is not a time for division but a time for unity.
Batesville and Independence County are known for having drug cartel activities, and our area is on the radar of state and national enforcement agencies. We’re not talking mom-and-pop operations but large amounts of drugs and money being funneled in and out of your homes, schools and businesses.
Just this week we saw first-hand how our department (along with other agencies) works when a woman was abducted and the man captured.
Had this taken place with everyone fussing and fighting, this outcome might not have been the same. Instead, we saw first-hand how well our agencies work together bringing about a happy ending.
At some point these agencies, if divided, could once again see themselves in competition rather than as a team working toward the same goal. That’s what happened back in 1981. We know how that ended.
If we are going to win and become a city and county we can be proud of, we need to check our egos at the door and sit down and find a way to keep what we already have in place.
The judge needs to understand that there is much more than numbers here at stake and the mayor needs to understand the city cannot survive without those who live outside the city limits.
The bottom line is safety.
We have a great group of law enforcement guys who go out there every day and work to make this a better place to live. And they never get the recognition they deserve for the jobs they do.
Not one person we have talked to thinks this is a good idea.
Let’s not step back in time and be divided but let’s find a way to move forward — together.