Who’s policing you?
Published 8:18 pm Friday, June 19, 2009
To Pike County residents, it’s likely there seems to be no shortage of police officers.
But with five major policing agencies in the Pike County area, it could be unclear just who’s policing whom.
If a wreck takes place in Meeksville, who will come? If someone gets robbed in Springhill, which law enforcement agency will work to catch the perpetrator?
Or if traveling through the heart of downtown Troy, who could stop a speeding car?
The agencies — the Troy Police Department, the Brundidge Police Department, Pike County Sheriff’s Department, Troy University Police and even Alabama State Troopers — often overlap in these areas.
But, at the same time, their policing radius is more cut and dry than it may seem, and it’s all defined in one green sign — “police jurisdiction.”
Jurisdiction makes it simple for law enforcement agencies, defining where they answer calls, where they file reports and for the most part, where they issue citations.
The Troy Police Department has the largest set jurisdiction in Pike County — spanning city limits and extending to a three-mile radius outside of those limits.
Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said the department’s jurisdiction goes to Meeksville, near the Meeksville Fire Department; out to Lake Youngblood and Shellhorn Pond; south to Pineview Mobile Home Park in Springhill; into Banks; and meets with Brundidge Police on U.S. Highway 231 south of Poplar Hills Mobile Home Park.
“That means we answer all emergency calls for police service in that area,” Everage said. “If you have a burglary there, we work that burglary.”
Like the city of Troy, the Brundidge Police Department jurisdiction covers all the Brundidge city limits and spans a two-mile radius outside of those limits. These areas are defined in the Alabama Code of Law.
Brundidge Police Chief Moses Davenport said that area stretches almost to the intersection of Alabama Highway 10 and County Road 4417; toward Shiloh on County Road 4408, shy of Sweet Pilgrim Church; down Connell Road, east of the road’s creek; down County Road 3316 until the road intersects with County Road 3319; down Highway 125 to just before Shady Grove Church; and down County Road 4421 just past Hamilton’s Crossroads.
The Brundidge jurisdiction continues down Elm Street Road, where it intersects with the city of Troy. That’s the only time those two departments intersect.
Both Brundidge and Troy are the policing agencies for several residents who do not live within their cities nor pay electricity or other services from them, which Davenport said could be confusing to some.
“There are certain services not provided for people in the jurisdiction that are outside the city limits,” Davenport said.
Neither the cities of Troy or Brundidge are completely alone in policing their jurisdictions.
The Pike County Sheriff’s Department works mainly to police the county areas that fall outside Brundidge and Troy, but Sheriff Russell Thomas said his department has jurisdiction all throughout the county.
Thomas said the department answers service calls that fall outside those city jurisdictions, but his deputies do have authority to work within all of the county.
Thomas said the difference in issuing traffic citations, for example, within the city’s areas is that those cases would be filed in the Pike County District Court, rather than the Troy or Brundidge Municipal Courts.
“We can (pull people over) anywhere, but all cases we make go through the district court,” Thomas said.
Alabama State Troopers can also travel all throughout anywhere in Alabama as authoritative law enforcement officers, said Trooper Spokesman Kevin Cook.
“We have jurisdiction all throughout the state of Alabama,” Cook said. “As a courtesy, we try not to work within the city limits, but we can.”
Everage said while Troy Police will respond to all wrecks within their jurisdiction, the Alabama State Troopers will spearhead the investigation on all wrecks that fall within the jurisdiction but on county or state roads. The same is true for Brundidge.
Thomas said troopers will also work all the wrecks that take place in deputy jurisdiction.
While the city of Troy’s jurisdiction includes Troy University, the university also has its own police force.
Troy University Police Chief Rod Anderson said university police are certified officers with the same responsibilities as all other law enforcement, and the jurisdiction is all of the campus and all university-owned buildings within the community.
“We handle anything that belongs to Troy University,” Anderson said.
WHO WILL RESPOND?
It probably makes little difference to residents which law enforcement agency comes calling in a time of need.
But, when residents want to make complaints, whom to call could get a little tricky.
The agencies for each jurisdiction handle all complaints in those areas, including the sheriff’s department, which files reports only in the county.
Traveling down the road, residents will often see green “police jurisdiction” signs indicating the entrance to a new policing area.
While sometimes the jurisdictions overlap for who will work wrecks, issuing tickets stays pretty much within the policing region.
For example, Troy and Brundidge will likely not issue a traffic ticket in another jurisdiction, unless there is an incident that could cause danger.
“We would inform the public agency in that area before actually taking action on anything, unless it is so reckless that it would cause danger,” Davenport said.
The county and state troopers, however, can issue tickets anywhere in Pike County, and Troy University police can write tickets outside of campus.
Municipal police can also issue warrants and make arrests anywhere in Pike County, but they have to file those arrests in the proper court.
For instance, if the Troy Police arrest someone in county jurisdiction, the offense is filed in the Pike County District Court.
Each police force has its own dispatch service, but the university’s is picked up by the city of Troy after daytime hours.
The difference in call loads between them, though, is the Troy Police Department dispatches every ambulance call in Pike County.
All 911 calls are made to Troy’s department, and then with a one-button transfer those that don’t require ambulance service are sent to the caller’s jurisdiction area.
Based on the work each force does, all department heads said they could use more staff, but they are still able to answer for the service the areas need.
The Troy Police Department has 49 officers, who are staffed in three shifts with about 10 on duty for each time period.
They have duties split by investigations, detectives division, housing authority patrol officers and animal control. In addition, the city runs a jail, where misdemeanors and juveniles are held,and a municipal court.
Everage said the staff is adequate to get the job done, but the demand has increased, and he is seeking funding for three new officers.
The Brundidge Police Department is smaller, with eight full-time officers, one part-time and another who is almost ready to be sworn in.
“I could use a couple more, yes,” Davenport said.
The sheriff’s department has 15 officers, plus Thomas, and they are broken into staggered shifts.
The sheriff’s department, on top of normal policing duties, also patrols all Probate Court, Circuit Court and District Court trials, hearings and any other time the courts convene.
It also runs the Pike County Jail, where all felony arrests, Brundidge arrests and trooper and game warden arrests in the county are brought.
Troy University Police have 11 officers and three shifts.
All departments work around the clock to meet safety needs in their areas. But, they also are quick to assist one another whenever needed and whenever staffing is available.
Troopers have four officers that patrol in the county, but Cook said how many are here at a time varies.
“We usually have someone out until midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. or later on weekends,” Cook said.