Powell also said that when he took the oath to serve as the city’s acting police chief in January, the city had no working radio system and the calls were rolled to the Walker County Sheriff’s Office when no one was in the Oakman Police station.
Now, nearly six months after he took that oath, he and Officer Chuck Lilley have gotten the police department’s radio system back up and running and say they are maintaining almost 24-hour coverage of the city.
They have also set up a dispatch office and have a volunteer dispatcher from the community who will be helping part time. Other times, Powell and Lilley roll the phone to their cell phones to ensure that the calls are answered.
“We’ve got people from the community volunteering to help us,” Powell said. “That says a lot, but we need more help and more involvement from the community.”
The duo is logging long hours, according to Powell, but they are devoted to capturing the people responsible for the thefts that have plagued the city. The two have made more than a dozen arrests over the last week, including one arrest in a case from December, where they were able to recover some of the victim’s stolen guns.
Not all arrests mean that the victim recovers the stolen items. According to Powell, a large portion of the stolen items go to salvage and scrap metal yards, where they can not be recovered.
“But we aren’t stopping until we catch the people,” Powell said.
Powell said he and Lilley made an arrest Saturday on an open theft case where a car was stolen from a resident. Powell said that after questioning, the suspect, Aaron Sartain, broke the window in the back of the police department and escaped. Powell and Lilley pursued Sartain on foot before recapturing him.
Powell said that residents are noticing the difference in the department.
“They are coming up to us every single day now, saying how glad they are to have a real police department now,” Powell said. “It didn’t get torn up overnight, and it isn’t going to get fixed overnight. But it is getting fixed.”