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Commissioners hold off on citation writing expansion
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Rockdale County department directors will have to wait before their subordinates will be allowed to write citations for ordinance violations.

The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners (BOC) unanimously voted to defer the resolution, that would give several positions in county departments, including the Rockdale County Board of Assessors, Board of Health, Fire and Rescue, Planning and Development, Stormwater Division, Recreation and Maintenance, Rockdale County Sheriff's Office and Rockdale Water Resources, authority to write citizens citations, for lack of job descriptions.

When the BOC reconvenes to further discuss the issue, there will also be an attached page that will feature a description of the 34 position titles listed in the resolution. Rockdale County Chief of Staff Gerald Sanders said that the Planning and Development Director Marshall Walker wanted to add four additional positions to the resolution list, which also factored in to the agenda item being deferred.

Post 1 County Commissioner Oz Nesbitt had some reservations about allowing county employees to write citations. He was especially apprehensive when it came to the Recreation and Maintenance department, with wanting to clarify that the citation allowances would be only for the Animal Control department and a new park supervisor position.

Recreation and Maintenance Director Jackie Lunsford explained that the new position would most likely cite people for dumping trash, vandalism, graffiti and "doing things that you're not supposed to do."

Nesbitt conjured up a situation where a person may need a citation and asked Lunsford who would write the citation: the park supervisor or the deputy?

"In most cases we would write the citation," she answered.

Rockdale County Chairman Richard Oden injected his opinion on the situation to try to calm some of the fears he perceived Nesbitt to be having about the issue.

"We're not replacing the sheriff's office," said Oden. "We'd rather have our sheriff's department chasing criminals as opposed to chasing kids writing on walls... It's not a duplication of services. It's an enhancement of services."

Nesbitt retorted that he didn't think the county was getting rid of the RCSO but was wary of allowing employees who aren't "duly sworn" or "deputized as a deputy" having the authority to write citations.

"If a citizen doesn't receive, accept it, or sign and acknowledge it, what happens then," asked Nesbitt. "I'm really more concerned about the position you're putting this individual in who's not a law enforcement officer dealing with the general public."

Nesbitt says that there may be a safety risk with allowing employees to write citations.

"In the minds of citizens, or a person who's out there vandalizing or doing something he or she should not be doing, they're not going to regard that individual the way they will a uniformed sheriff deputy," he said. "That's my concern. In terms of the liability and the place that we're putting this individual in in terms of writing citations. People don't want a citation from the police, they don't want one from the sheriff's office let alone a security guard."

Oden said Nesbitt expressed some good points before countering by saying, "We have a number of different employees that have uniforms on with badges. We wouldn't put a janitor out on the field to implement this program."

Oden then stated that the people wielding the citation pad will be those qualified to do so based on their job description, which will be included in the resolution.

"We really need to think about the need and what we're trying to address," said Nesbitt. "We got to identify the right personnel and qualifications of an individual that we're going to place out there that gives the complete authority and oomph factor to do what they need to do."

The BOC will meet again during its work session next Tuesday, April 21, at 10 a.m. at the Assembly Hall building, 901 Main Street, Conyers.