News

Police chief, aldermen spar after impound fee ordinance dropped

Clockwise from top left: Police Chief Rob Copley, Alderman Paul Havermale, Alderman Mike Farha and Mayor Kyle Moore
Posted: Sep. 14, 2015 10:27 pm Updated: Sep. 28, 2015 10:35 pm

By MATT HOPF
Staff Writer | 217-221-3391
mhopf@whig.com | @MHopfWHIG

QUINCY -- An ordinance that would have allowed the Quincy Police Department to begin charging a $300 impound fee for certain offenses failed to pass a routine parliamentary procedure Monday after the police chief and some aldermen verbally sparred.

Editor's Note: Listen to the 20-minute debate between aldermen and Police Chief Rob Copley in the video file associated with this story. To play, click the video above.

The Quincy City Council voted against reading the ordinance into the record for a first time in a voice vote. Many aldermen were concerned that the ordinance shouldn't appear connected to help pay for two more police officers and that it was being rushed through.

The ordinance had been presented as a way for the department to recoup $130,000 in expenses for two more officers. The department currently doesn't receive anything for vehicles it already tows for some offenses.

After the vote, Police Chief Rob Copley told the aldermen that he was disappointed with their action and that he believed the ordinance should be reviewed by the Police Committee.

"There should have been made a motion to go somewhere to work on, not just sitting moot and letting it die," Copley said.

He has asked in recent weeks that four patrol officer positions be restored in response to a spike in violent crime in the city, including gun violence. The four positions were eliminated in this fiscal year's budget.

Several aldermen took issue with Copley's remarks.

Alderman Paul Havermale, R-3, said he understood Copley's disappointment but did not like being lectured from the lectern, and he took issue with the "media circus" that the issue has been made into by Copley and the administration.

"I supported hiring two officers, Rob, and I made that motion and that was supposed to be on the agenda tonight," Havermale said. "I don't write the damn agenda."

Aldermen Mike Farha, R-4, said the ordinance was not presented properly and it should not be connected to hiring officers.

"I don't like being attacked, especially when I can't defend myself ..." Farha said. "I don't think you were put in a good position. I'll be clear about that. ... I think you need to back off your comments."

Copley clarified after the meeting that he was disappointed that he couldn't address the council about the ordinance before aldermen decided not to move it forward.

Havermale also requested that the Police Committee review a resolution recommending that the department hire two officers and separately review the department revenues and expenses.

Copley said rushing the ordinance to the council was driven by the administration.

"This is not a way to pay for officers," he said. "This is a way to recoup costs if we tow vehicles."

Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore said he would not sign off on hiring any additional officers without new revenue for the department.

"I said for us to hire police officers that we have to have some type of revenue or some type of offset of expenses," he said. "I didn't care how we did it."

Copley said Moore told him that the ordinance needed to be passed Monday or the department would not be able to add officers. Moore said a plan to address revenues or expenses had to pass the council to get new officers to the next state police academy, which starts Sept. 27.

"However, if that date was not met, we can always hire officers that would then start Jan. 3," he said. "The time crunch is not one presented by this City Council or this administration. It's the fact that there are not classes in November or December."

OTHER ACTION

• The City Council authorized Mayor Kyle Moore to sign a contract with SprintCom, Inc. to install cellular antennas on the city-owned water tower at 1020 Vermont. The 10-year agreement calls for the city to be paid $2,500 per month with a 3 percent annual increase. The contract allows for four additional 5-year extensions, with the city able to terminate the agreement with a nine-month notice. Sprint will provide the city with 24-hour notice when it needs to access the site for maintenance, with shorter notification allowed for emergencies. Revenue from the lease will go to the city's general fund.

• Aldermen approved a low bid of $114,156 from D&L Excavating of Liberty, for the North 29th Street rehabilitation project.

• A $19,931 contract with Diversified Drilling and Consulting of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was approved to place four additional groundwater monitoring wells at Municipal Landfill No. 4 in Burton Township.

• The council agreed to pay a $9,895 invoice from Rees Construction Co. for the repair of a collapsed sewer line at 20th and Lind.

• Aldermen agreed to pay the invoice of $72,500 from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for the renewal of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.