The City of Covington will meet Monday night to discuss the specifics of possibly adding two City Marshals for code enforcement in the city limits.
Covington Police Department (CPD) Captain Philip Bradford presented information on the city marshal position to the council during its work session March 9. Since then, the council discussed the position once again during its work session March 20 and has now called another work session March 27 to meet with the two people who would serve in the positions.
The main point of contention is the uniform and what all it will include. Specifically, council members raised concern about the need for a handgun and handcuffs.
Not your average peace officer
If approved, city marshals will be certified peace officers by the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council. However, even though the marshals will have arresting powers, they will serve a different role than a CPD officer. They will also wear different uniforms to help differentiate them, Bradford said.
The uniform would include a light blue collared shirt with an embroidered badge, four-pocket dark blue pants and a downsized belt as compared to normal police officers. Bradford proposed the belt include a radio, handgun, pepper spray, handcuffs and extra ammunition. Marshals would also be equipped with body cameras to be used whenever they interact with members of the public.
“If we don’t give them the tools necessary to do their jobs, that comes back on us – the city,” Bradford said. “I feel like we have a responsibility to him to be able to protect himself.
“We want them to look professional. We didn’t want him to look threatening.”
The marshals would also be supplied with a bullet-proof vest, but would not be required to wear it at all times.
During the March 20 work session prior to the council’s regularly scheduled meeting, Councilman Kenneth Morgan and Councilman Chris Smith raised concerns about the need for a gun.
Morgan said he is continuing to be open minded, but is worried about public interpretation.
“I understand the aspect of us trying to make things better… but at the end of the day we still have the citizens we have to answer to,” he said. “I just have some reservations about it. I just don’t feel real good about it.”
Smith questioned the need to be armed and raised an example that meter readers and other city employees may encounter hostile situations while on the job.
CPD Chief Stacey Cotton said the council can always change their mind in the future, but recommended a trial period with all of the equipment.
Expediting the process
Creating the city marshal positions would allow the city to expedite its ordinance enforcement through stricter court orders and case organization through the police department.
Scott Gaither, director of the city’s planning and zoning department, will be the supervisor of the two city marshals, but their positions will also be part of the police department for purposes of maintaining the cases and certifications.
Marshals would have their own set of case numbers within the CPD database and work with the CPD to maintain their POST certification through the required firearm training and other requirements.
Marshals would be considered more of an officer of the court, instead of a police officer, Cotton said.