County puts #036;140,000 to

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 19, 2000

work for Sheriff’s Dept.


Staff Writer

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Dec. 18, 2000 10 PM

Three Pike County Commissioners gathered Monday morning for a public hearing regarding the expenditure of grant funds provided by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

With no opposition being voiced, the public hearing lasted only minutes ­ the same period of time in which a situation can escalate into violence.

The $104,000 Law Enforcement Block Grant discussed Monday will be used to in the event the Pike County Sheriff’s Department ever has to respond to a potentially violent situation.

"We’re (the county commission) totally in favor of supporting the sheriff in this block grant," Pike County Commission Chairman Willie Thomas said.

Combined with a $11,555 local match, $115,555 will be spent to upgrade the department’s ability to respond to hostage or other potentially violent situations.

A majority of the funding ­ $82,600 ­ will be spent on vehicles with the remaining being used to purchase protective equipment for seven deputies.

The grant will also fund training for a special team of deputies to respond to hostage situations involving armed subjects or other dangerous situations.

Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said the grant will allow the department to purchase equipment it would otherwise not be able to get because of the expense involved.

"I want our people to be equipped with the necessary tools," Thomas said. "They’re asked to do a lot of dangerous things and I want to do what it takes to protect them."

With national headlines constantly highlighting problems in schools and other hostage situations, Thomas said he wants deputies to be prepared in the event something like that happens here.

"I hope the problem never arises, but if it does, we’ll be ready," Thomas said.

He said the equipment will also be used during situations, such as search warrants, which have the potential of being dangerous for law enforcement officers.

The grant proposal entitled "Law Enforcement in the New Millennium 2000 and Beyond" was the first to be awarded in this grant cycle, the sheriff said.

In addition to Thomas, Commissioners Charlie Harris and Larry Meeks were present for the public hearing.