BY DAVID FISHER
GLEASON (May 14) — The need to procure a separate building for the Gleason Police Department was a major topic of discussion, during Thursday night’s meeting of the Gleason City Board.
Police Chief Paul Eddlemon addressed the board concerning his department’s need to have its own building to properly conduct police business. He argued the victims of child abuse, sexual assault and other crimes are reluctant to be seen talking with officers at the police department’s current location inside city hall.
Chief Eddlemon stated the old Co-op building is for sale and could be purchased for $47,000, which is a fraction of its value.
Alderman Keith Radford spoke in favor of the purchase; however, Mayor Diane Poole was adamant that if there is to be a new police station, it should be built next to the existing city hall in downtown Gleason.
“Police work has changed a lot in the last 10 years,” Chief Eddlemon said. He noted, during the past week, Gleason police officers have had to utilize the Carl Perkins Center to conduct private interviews involving child abuse and sexual abuse, because they have no adequate space of their own.
“We have a one-room police department, and it’s difficult to do our job there,” Chief Eddlemon said. He explained when interviewing a victim or a suspect, people are coming and going inside city hall, so officers have to try to find somewhere in the building to conduct interviews where their conversation can’t be heard.
“We’ve found that people, such as rape victims, don’t want to come up here and be seen, because they’re ashamed,” Chief Eddlemon said.
“I’m asking for some type of police department, so we can effectively do the job. We’re cramped where we are, so we have to utilize everybody else’s space when we don’t have it ourselves.”
The chief stated he looked around at different buildings and found the old Co-op building on Janes Mill Road has set dormant for quite some time. Eddlemon added the Co-op Board agreed to sell the building and approximately three acres of land, which are appraised at $160,000, for $47,000. The chief stated the land is needed to comply with the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) program, which stipulates the equipment they donate to the city must be kept in a secure location. By fencing the back of the lot, Gleason Police Department’s Humvee and other equipment could be kept under lock and key.
Regarding possible ground contamination from fuel and chemicals, the manager of Co-op has agreed to take core samples of the entire property before Gleason finalizes the purchase.
“I’m asking the board to proceed forward with this and perform a title search,” Chief Eddlemon said.
He stated he has heard concerns over the proposed location for a new police station not being located in the middle of town. However, he stated the property is separate; more private has plenty of parking space. Eddlemon also commented he would like to have a storm shelter at the site for people who don’t feel safe in their homes.
“I’m asking the board to move forward with purchasing the property.
“I think we need to table it and look at the budget, compare prices and discuss pros and cons,” Mayor Poole said.
“I’ve tried to discuss pros and cons with you mayor,” Chief Eddlemon said.
“I know you have, and you know what I’ve told you, I want it in the middle of town,” Mayor Poole said.
“The police department needs a separate building,” Alderman Jim Phelps said. “You can’t bring a rape victim and sit down in that office where there are people all around it. They’re going to be crying. They’re not going to feel safe. They’re not going to feel comfortable. You can’t do that. They need a separate space. Every city in Weakley County has moved their police departments out of city hall. Gleason is the only one that has not. So, I agree they need another location. We can argue over whether it needs to be downtown or wherever.”
He added if someone wants to come talk to the police about drug issues, they may be afraid to come forward for fear of being seen.
Mayor Poole suggested building a police station next to the existing city hall (toward the library) and renovating city hall. This would include rewiring and making other needed upgrades to the current building, such as replacing the windows. “If we did that, we could just do all of it at one time.”
Alderman Keith Radford said, “I’m going to say we’ve drug our feet long enough, and I make a motion that we proceed to buy that property.”
But, before the motion could be seconded, Mayor Poole said, “I table that. We’re not going to buy it now. Not until after the budget.”
The board also heard from Sandy Hickey office manager for BAM-2, a water and wastewater specialist company located in Gleason that has worked on turbines and other equipment for numerous municipalities throughout West Tennessee. Hickey stated the local business wishes to partner with the city on certain projects, such as a water park. (See separate article, Gleason board discusses new water park.”)
In department reports, Police Chief Eddlemon said, “In the beginning, it was very hard for us to find masks and things if we had to go into a situation where COVID-19 was active.” He stated Charles McAbee, the owner of Custom Car Care, donated masks to make sure the officers are protected. These are similar to paint masks with filters on the side.
Mayor Poole stated she is hopeful the city’s park program will open in June for all of the local ball teams.
Under concerns from the aldermen, Radford stated some of those contacted about razing their dilapidated houses complied with the city’s instructions, while others started but did not complete the work. Those who have done as they were asked and tore down their houses “feel like they’ve been picked on,” Radford said.
The mayor stated Chief Eddlemon, who doubles as the city’s code enforcement officer, has sent out more letters.
“We need to proceed on,” Radford said.
Alderman Jerry Dunn, Jr. commended Gleason First Baptist Church and all of those that helped with a recent food drive to help the community. “In my opinion, the way I was raised, that’s what the church is for.”
“About 300 people came through, and they provided enough food for about 800 people,” Mayor Poole said. “They also gave away about 40 bibles.”
Casey Hood, candidate for State Senate, introduced himself just before the meeting drew to a close.
BY DAVID FISHER