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Name of new position causes stir at Rockdale County Commission meeting
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CONYERS - What's in a name? For the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners (BOC) the answer is a lot.

The BOC spent nearly 20 minutes deliberating the proper name of a new county position before ultimately opting to change the name from security coordinator to safety coordinator in a 2-1 vote during the board's July 14 voting session.

Nesbitt initially questioned the title of the security coordinator, a new position for the Rockdale County Recreation and Maintenance department that was approved in the county's 2015 budget and has remained vacant, because the title included the word security.

"I'm not in favor of this," he said of having security in the title. "My chief concern is the actual title. I think the level of liability that it places the county in by simply having that term or title should I say, security, really puts us in a whole level of different liability that I don't think will be in the best interest of the county going forward."

Rockdale County Public Works Deputy Director Sue Roberts tried to calm the fears of Nesbitt by reading the job description of the new position, which includes being responsible for planning, directing and coordinating of county safety programs to discourage crimes, decrease vandalism, help protect the physical safety of the public and assets and other duties as well.

Roberts also explained the position "will be a park supervisor type position but will have the security duties." However, the position holder won't carry any firearm, Taser or handcuffs and the department doesn't anticipate the position holder will be writing citations to civilians.

"Right now what they would do is call code enforcement or the sheriff's office," said Roberts. "The intention is not for them to put themselves in harm's way. They will not be instructed to approach dangerous situations."

While Nesbitt appreciated the explanation, he still didn't want the word security being in the position title for liability reasons. He suggested the position be changed to a maintenance worker to avoid any future liability cost.

Post 2 County Commissioner Doreen Williams then suggested County Attorney Qader Baig tell the board if there could be any liability on the county because of the name of the position.

"At this point from a legal perspective it matters more what the person actually does than it affects the title itself," said Baig. "Understanding the point Post 1 commissioner is making, I would concur the word security generally informs people's understanding t hat's there's something heightened in their level of law enforcement. I hear security I don't think of someone tending to the garden and picking weeds of the flower bed. "

Baig then suggested changing the name of the position to safety coordinator because the word safety is used three times in the job description.

"It's a good middle ground," said Baig.

The title was created by the county human resources department and Darryl Bowie, director of Human Resources, says that the title of security coordinator was commonly used in their research for the duties of the position.

However, Bowie told the board that changing the name from security to safety wouldn't be an issue for him. Roberts also agreed the name change wouldn't be a problem for the Parks and Maintenance department.

"We need a person in there coordinating," said Roberts.

Rockdale Chairman Richard Oden made the motion to rename the position to safety coordinator, but Nesbitt felt the action of changing the name during the meeting was too "hasty" of an action, even though he agreed "the word safety is a positive alternative."

He recommended deferring the item to a later to give the county staff time to conduct more research and find a proper name that would fit the position.

While he was sensitive to Nesbitt's concerns, Rockdale County Gerald Sanders told the board this position is vital to the Parks and Recreation department because the parks are currently experiencing its highest usage months with it being the summertime and thus more maintenance of the parks was needed.

Oden reiterated his motion for the name changed and it was seconded by Williams. Oden and Williams then approved the motion with Nesbitt dissenting.