Senoia Police honored with prestigious designation

by Wes Mayer


The Senoia Police Department, staff and members of the Senoia City Council pose with the State Certificate plaque. From left are front, Public Safety Clerk Valerie Burns, Off. Jennifer Hammond, Sgt. Michelle Worden, Court Clerk Alyson Leveillard, Off. Lee Huddleston, Off. Chance Leveillard, Sgt. Mark Eakin and Certification Consultant Beverly Trainor; middle, Chief Jason E. Edens, Lt. Detective Jason Ercole, Off. Paul Culp, Sgt. Randall Burns, Sgt. James McCue, Off. Zack Heinberg, Off. Evan Kilgore, Major Steve Tomlin; back, City Councilman Maurice Grover, City Councilman Bobby Graham and Mayor Larry Owens. 

The first Senoia City Council meeting of 2014 turned out to be special not only because it was Larry Owens’ first meeting serving as mayor, but because the Senoia Police Department received a distinguished award.

Before the council meeting officially began, Senoia Police Chief Jason Edens announced the police department had been recognized as a Certified Law Enforcement Agency under Georgia’s Law Enforcement Certification Program. For the achievement, Edens and the police department were honored with a brief ceremony and presented plaques by Lake City Police Chief David Colwell, the Georgia District 10 representative for the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

“This is fairly prestigious for many agencies,” Colwell said. “But the size of Senoia makes it even more prestigious. This is a big deal for a city this size.”

The achievement places the Senoia Police Department in the top 109 police departments in Georgia, Colwell said — the top 15 percent. Colwell said the achievement affirms that the Senoia Police Department is consistent with the association’s professional standards, the department displays greater operational and administrative effectiveness, it has an enhanced understanding of agency policies and practices, and it benefits from greater public and governmental confidence and support, recognition in the field and reduced liability potential.

The department will hold the certification for three years, after which it will have a chance to reapply.

According to the program’s website, the certification process involves the department applying in the program, learning and meeting the program’s requirements and responsibilities, being assessed by a team of law enforcement professionals and taken into consideration by the program’s Joint Review Committee. Colwell said the Senoia Police Department was assessed for 129 standards in eight different areas of law enforcement, and it met every single one.

“Without these guys doing what they do day in and day out,” Edens said about his officers and staff, “Major [Steve] Tomlin and I are just two guys sitting in the office. These guys do a great job. I can’t say enough about who they are and what they mean to this city. They are the heart and soul of what goes on here.”

On the plaque is written: “Be it hereby known that the Senoia Police Department has fully demonstrated its commitment to law enforcement excellence by meeting all applicable standards as established in the State of Georgia Law Enforcement Certificate Program.”

After the ceremony, the Senoia City Council meeting officially began. First, the city appointed its officials. Councilman Bobby Graham was appointed mayor pro-tem, Richard Ferry was re-appointed city manager and open records officer, Debby Volk as city clerk and municipal elections supervisor, Andrew Whalen as city attorney, Sharon Pierce as judge of the Municipal Court, Adam Shoemaker as solicitor of the Municipal Court, and Alison Leviellard as clerk of Municipal Court.

The city council then reappointed Suzanne Helfman, whose four-year term was ending, as chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, and the commissioners on the Planning Commission — Jim Preece, Lynne Wendt, Ken Hazelton, Cheryl Mullinax, Herb Mallon and Shelby Barker — and commissioners on the Historic Preservation Commission — William Pearman, Gary Baumgardner, Ray Adams and Maureen Schuyler.

The final administrative matters were to set the qualifying fees for the city council at $90 for city council and $360 for mayor, and the council rescheduled the Jan. 20 meeting for Jan. 27.

In other business:

• Approved was an extension on the city’s sale of the Senoia old water tower to Historic Development Ventures LLC. The sale was last extended on July 2, 2013, for six months, and a second extension was approved Monday to June 30 this year.

• Approved were restructured guidelines for the rehabilitation and maintenance of historic structures — the Senoia Preservation Commission worked to update and draft a more up-to-date set of guidelines.

• In new business the council approved a contract between the city of Senoia and Coweta County to repave Main Street — the city would pay for the construction, but the county would work on the project. The council also approved the purchase of three new public works vehicles, Ford F-150 models costing $19,084.14 each.

• Discussed was a proposed engineering project on Seavy Street where water is standing on each side of the road. According to City Manager Richard Ferry, water and mud pose a potential safety risk, so at the moment, barricades are blocking the area. Ferry said engineers are still figuring out how much a permanent fix would cost, but proposed the question of whether a temporary fix — costing around $5,000 to drain the water — is a good idea. After a discussion, the council decided to wait to hear plans for a more permanent repair.

• In public comments, a resident of the Springdale subdivision came forward to ask for road closed signs to be put on Baggerly Way. The street is only one-way, however, midway down the road, equipment blocks all through-traffic. Therefore, drivers are forced to turn around and drive the wrong way on the one-way street.

The council decided to cover the one-way signs temporarily.

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