City code enforcement changes

Published 6:52 pm Friday, December 6, 2013

The City of Bainbridge made some shifts within their Code Enforcement and Public Safety departments at their meeting Tuesday when they created an entirely new position just for code enforcement marshal. The council unanimously approved creating a new type of position for code enforcement officers to change how people in the community perceive them, but also helps keep the officer’s peace officer benefits.
City Manager Chris Hobby told the Bainbridge City Council Tuesday the current code enforcement officer who works through the Bainbridge Public Safety department had an incident with a resident who was scared to deal with a police officer over code enforcement issues.
“This was someone who was not a naturally born U.S. Citizen and police had a totally different implication for her,” Hobby said.
He said until they had that incident, he had never viewed the role of a code enforcement officer, who wears a police uniform and drives a police car, as threatening to residents.
Hobby said he and community development officials looked into what other cities do, and there is a trend across the state to move code enforcement officers out from under the public safety departments and to the community development office.
“It was brought to my attention that code enforcement procedures where we have a uniformed officer might come across as a bit heavy handed to our citizens because that is not the purpose or goal of code enforcement,” Hobby said at the meeting. “The purpose of code enforcement is to coerce people to come into compliance with code.”
He said monetarily a resolution to move the one-officer working code enforcement cases from public safety to community development and create a marshal position, would have no effect. It was cost the city the same amount of money to move him to a new office and department.
“There will be no monetary impact as this is just changing positions around and moving responsibilities from public safety over to community development,” Hobby said.
The council approved a resolution to change the position and move the code enforcement officer to community development. The officer will no longer wear a typical police uniform or drive a black and white police vehicle.

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