FAIRFIELD, Ala. (WIAT) – Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway hosted a public safety town hall, Monday evening, to give Fairfield residents the opportunity to ask questions about law enforcement in their community. Jefferson County Sheriff deputies are now being contracted out to the cash-strapped city.
According to the sheriff, there will be eight deputies working 12-hour shifts, meaning that there will be two deputies working in Fairfield at all times. The contract is set to last for a year.
“If our financing was able to improve to the point that we could fully equip and fully staff a police department, that’s our goal,” explained Mayor Eddie Penny. Sheriff Pettway agreed, pointing to the recently reestablished Graysville Police Department. Jeff Co recently donated several patrol vehicles to Graysville.
“We’re here, not only to just help you while we’re here,” he said, “but if you decide to start back over on your own, we will also assist you in starting back on your own, again.”
However, there were several questions that citizens asked that were met with less clear answers. “It’s not being transparent with the citizens of the city,” said Valerie Moore, who has lived in Fairfield her whole life, “and I feel like the citizens would receive it a whole lot more if you just roll it all out and don’t sugarcoat it and been done with it.”
Several times throughout the evening, both the Mayor and Sheriff were asked questions pertaining to money. During the town hall, Moore asked, “How much would the city be saving versus how much will they be paying the county?” She was never given a number.
“We’re doing what we feel like would give us the best opportunity to maintain the best law enforcement possible, and to work through a difficult time,” Mayor Penny responded.
Several neighbors also asked what would happen to the remaining Fairfield police officers, since the department will not be completely dissolved. Pettway said that it would not be up to his department to decide their future role. Mayor Penny mentioned city ordinance enforcement, however, there was not a clear plan set out during the town hall for the officers.