The Roanoke Police Department was the target of two public complaints at Monday’s Roanoke City Council meeting – one from a citizen and one from council member Tammi Holley.
Holley described an incident that took place in January in which some items were confiscated as part of an arrest. Holley contended that those items – specifically a gun reportedly owned by someone other than the arrested person – were not returned to the owner in a prompt manner.
In the midst of her description, police chief Jonathan Caldwell interrupted, saying “That’s a lie,” more than once.
Mayor Jill Patterson Hicks had to use her gavel to calm the ensuing back and forth between Caldwell and Holley.
Holley has been outspoken throughout the past year about her displeasure with the police department, and this is the second time she has voiced that displeasure in the forum of a public council meeting.
Later in the meeting Roanoke resident Jonathan Hodges spoke during the time set aside for public comments and described an unpleasant experience with what he claimed was a false arrest for failure to appear in court for a previous offense.
He claimed he did appear in court but was later arrested and detained for approximately 11 hours at the Roanoke jail because of an erroneously issued warrant.
He mentioned a lack of essential items such as toilet paper in the jail and general mistreatment by the officers on duty during and after his arrest. He also spoke of black mold in the jail building as well, a documented ongoing issue at the facility.
Because of those ongoing issues with the condition of the facility Roanoke has since contracted with the county Sheriff’s Department to send all of its inmates to the county jail, a measure that Holley voted against. Roanoke also has plans to move the entire police department out of its current facility and into a new location on Main Street.
Holley also responded to Hodges’s claims once his time was up, saying, “I believe everything you said. It has been an ongoing problem down there for too long.”
Sales tax collection
The council unanimously passed a measure Monday that will allow the state department of revenue to oversee the city’s collection of sales tax money. The city is under contract with AVENU, a private sales tax collection agency, but that contract expires at the end of May, and will not be renewed after Monday’s change.
The move will save the city an estimated $25,000-$60,000 per year based on projected fees from the Department of Revenue, as compared to AVENU’s fees.
More recreation center improvements
The council approved an estimated $15,000 expenditure to put towards the ongoing renovation inside the Roanoke recreation center. The center is receiving a new basketball floor and a new interior paint job. The additional money will be used to clean engraved graffiti off of the bathroom ceilings in the building, to paint the bleachers in the gym and for additional trim painting that was not originally part of the estimate for the renovations.
The money was unanimously approved by the council.
In other action the council:
Agreed to pay umpires for youth baseball games double pay when they are forced to work games solo. Umpires calling games alone – with the exception of T-ball games – will not make $70 or $80 per game depending on the age group.
Agreed to establish two bank accounts for money seized as part of narcotics arrests. One account would hold all the money seized until the trial for the related crime is complete. The second account would hold the city’s portion of those appropriated funds once the trial is over.
Agreed to allow the city’s code enforcement officers to take dogs to Main Street Animal Hospital at a rate of $175 per dog as a backup for when the county’s animal shelter cannot take captured dogs. According to the Roanoke Police Department the county animal shelter has not had room for Roanoke’s captured strays and has not taken any of those dogs since December of last year.
Agreed to allow 431 Disposal to put in a local fuel tank and parking space behind the new police department building on Main Street in order to avoid having to drive their trucks back and forth from Auburn.