City workers had initially put a sign up on Tuesday. It was installed at the request of the city council after several members of the staff of city hall complained about residents loitering in the dispatch office.
On Friday, however, Mayor Chris Hart told city workers by phone to take the sign down. Hart, who works for a railroad company, has been out of the state for several days.
When asked why he wanted the sign down, Hart said he only wanted to make the following statement: “If they (the council) are going to enforce a policy, they need to enforce all of them.”
Hart said he couldn’t name a specific policy without singling out city employees.
Hart also said he felt the decision to hang the sign needed to be officially voted on by the council.
The city council met for a called meeting Saturday morning and voted to hang the sign back up. Since Hart was absent for the called meeting, Chris Pschirer served as mayor pro tem.
Jacque Roberson Allred, a council member and the wife of Police Chief Heath Allred, said the issue concerns more than simply loitering.
Allred said dispatchers at the police department deal with sensitive information like a person’s social security number and birth date.
“We have no business letting just anybody into the dispatch office,” she said. “This is not a coffee shop.”
Jacque Allred also said many police departments, like Jasper, have restrictions on who can access their dispatch offices.
Pschirer added that he is concerned about the safety of residents because inmates from the city jail are often walked through the dispatch office for their required exercise.