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Posted: June 23, 2012 4:45 p.m.

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Social Circle facing turmoil on public safety

The Social Circle city council has yet to make a decision about the internal reorganization of the public safety department's structure. Meanwhile, department employees are becoming disgruntled by the lack of communication between elected officials and public safety employees.

The council has been presented with three options. The first option would place a lieutenant over the police and fire divisions, keeping the Department of Public Safety whole. The second option would split the police and fire divisions, putting a chief over each department. The third option would separate the police and fire employees into three teams, which would each work 24-hour shifts on a rotating basis.

Public Safety Director Tom Fox said after meeting with the employees to discuss scheduling preferences, there was an overwhelming preference to stay with 12-hour shifts on police and 24-hour shifts on fire.

Most public safety employees preferred the first option: to put lieutenants over both police and fire, Fox said.

Fox also said many of the employees wanted to meet with the council and the mayor to share concerns about communication issues between the council and the public safety employees.

Many employees feel that there is an adversarial stance towards their department, Fox said. The public safety employees also want to speak with the council about stability in the leadership and structure so they can plan vacations at least six months out. Constant shift changing has prevented this.

Public Safety Officer Swilley also spoke to the council.

Officer Swilley said the council only hears negative complaints from its constituents about the Public Safety Department and believe it to be true. Better communication is needed. Within the department itself, morale is low, Swilley said.

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