Wednesday, June 20, 2012
The Fort Oglethorpe City Council recognized its most recent Citizens Police Academy graduates and adopted new health and liability insurance contracts for the coming year at its most recent meeting.
Both measures offer improved services for citizens with a minimal investment, said officials.
“Citizens on patrol does a fantastic job,” Mayor Lynn Long said of the seven who completed the 10-week citizens police academy that offers an overview of law enforcement procedures. “They save the city a lot of money.”
Classroom work and demonstrations are augmented by ride-alongs with patrol officers where students can observe policing in action. Those attending the classes also are instructed in firearms safety and visit the firing range.
Academy graduates volunteer their time and energy to help with crowd and parking control at local events, freeing sworn officers for patrol or supervisory duties.
“They helped with BRAG [Bicycle Ride Across Georgia 2012 that started from Fort Oglethorpe on June 2] and at the Cruise-in,” Long said.
These volunteers also are visible during homecoming and Christmas parades; events at Barnhardt Circle such as Labor Day at the Post, Patriotism at the Post; and the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon. The graduates, in their black polo shirts bearing a city logo, often are called to help when floods or other weather events disrupt traffic in the city.
“It pleases me to see the interest of the citizens,” said Councilman Johnnie “Red” Smith, who served as a patrol officer and chief of police before his retirement.
While having volunteers to assist in policing duties helps the city reduce its need to pay overtime or hire more officers, the city changing its insurer saved taxpayers even more money.
City Manager Ron Goulart told council members that negotiations and shifting insurance carriers will halve the amount health insurance premiums would otherwise cost while doubling the city’s commercial coverage.
“The original offer was for a 9 percent increase,” he said, before informing the council that premiums for employee life and health insurance will instead increase by 4.5 percent.
Goulart said the city’s claims history helped in bargaining for that lower rate.
As approved, the city share of major medical, dental, vision and life insurance for employees will total $1,129,669 in next year’s budget.
The city’s liability insurance is slightly more than what is currently being paid, but offers twice the coverage — it has a $1 million cap — and has no limit on the cost of any single incident. This policy will be underwritten by Travelers and carry a premium of $236,950.