Miller: City should set curfew, get cars out of yards

Published 7:45 pm Tuesday, March 27, 2012

CORDELE, Ga. — Speaking to the City Council at their annual retreat, held last Friday and Saturday near Cordele, Ga., Bainbridge Public Safety Director Eric Miller spoke about some of the changes he is making at BPS.

Among the community issues Miller believes the City Council might choose to address in the city’s ordinances include: the eyesore of cars parked in their front yards, juveniles roaming the city during school hours or late at night and excessive storage of scrap tires.

“Currently, there is no curfew for kids under the age of 18,” Miller said. “Establishing a curfew would eliminate the opportunity for young people to get into trouble late at night.

“During the day, students should be in school. Late at night, there is no reason people under 18 should be out on the streets. There are just too many temptations to get into trouble.”

Regarding the issue of scrap tire storage, Miller said Georgia law currently allows businesses to store up to 3,000 tires at a single site. He said he believed that not only does having a large amount of scrap tires look bad, the tires also help breed mosquitoes and present fire hazards when placed too close to structures.

Miller said BPS will partner with the city’s Community Development division to begin fire inspections of Bainbridge businesses, promoting fire safety and informing the public about how to prevent fires and crime.

“It’s important to have a safe and secure community in order to attract new business and residents and to encourage the people who are already here to stay,” Miller said.

Miller said he when he first took over BPS’s command in January, he found that some people’s perception that BPS “was a police department that provided part-time fire service” was largely true. He said he has spent time to unify officers under the Public Safety model, in which all of them are dual-trained as both police officers and firefighters. Miller said he views BPS as “in partnership with the city governmental team and citizens … we will look at solving quality of life issues together.”

The public safety director said he has implemented “two-way communication” in which officers are encouraged to share their ideas and as a result, he believes morale has improved.

Public Safety officers have contributed their own ideas for potential outreach programs they would like to see, Miller said. Those include helping youth with disabilities work alongside a BPS officer or another city employee for a day, having officers take youths Christmas shopping for their families, sponsoring recreational sports teams, participating in local food drive programs and sponsoring a program that helps parents create emergency identification kits for their children.

Two steps Miller has already taken with the Council’s support are purchasing necessary firefighting gear and equipment that was not previously in use, and upgrading the protective body armor that officers wear. Miller said he is committed to improving officers’ firefighting training and taking other steps to help improve the city’s fire insurance rating.

Miller said he is looking forward to BPS moving into its new headquarters at the old National Guard Armory on Louise Street on July 1. BPS will maintain its current headquarters on Shotwell Street as a fire station and there is some potential for placing Decatur County emergency response vehicles and personnel there in the future, Miller said.