Magnolia officials will appoint citizens to serve on a civilian law enforcement oversight committee to help resolve matters as they arise within the police department.

Aldermen voted 4-0, with Ward 1 Alderwoman Becky Magee absent, Tuesday night to create the city auxillary.

“This is all about due process,” Mayor Anthony Witherspoon said.

Police Chief Ray Reynolds said he supports the move because it will help to resolve conflicts of interest.

He said the committee will be especially useful in situations that aren’t serious enough to warrant investigation by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, or if the Pike County Sheriff’s Department is not available.

Witherspoon said the committee would most likely be tasked with handling internal investigations involving employees of the police department in which a neutral arbiter would ensure due process.

For serious transgressions or felonious acts, the MBI would investigate, as is standard practice.

Witherspoon asked aldermen to nominate a representative from their respective wards for appointment to the five-member committee. Representatives will serve a concurrent term to the elected administration.

“We have to do something to make people feel like they’re getting a fair shake,” he said at a work session Monday night.

 Witherspoon said the committee will operate as an official auxillary of the city, similar to internal affairs units used in other municipalities. Those appointed to the committee and confirmed by the board will be sent to a system of civilian oversight of law enforcement trainings.

The committee, comprised of citizens who will most likely have to undergo background checks, will meet when requested by the city board and perform duties specified by the board.

In situations in which a matter ends up in court, members of the auxiliary oversight committee may be required to testify on behalf of the city.

In other business, the board:

• Appointed Chief Reynolds, Assistant Chief Sonya Woodall and Capt. Vernell Felder as deputy court clerks, allowing them to attest to affidavits.

• Allowed Michael Woodard to place a mobile home on the property located at 2116 Quinlivan Road to replace a home that was destroyed in a fire.

• Appointed Dennis Tobias to the Pike County Economic Development board for a term ending June 2021, replacing Sam Hall, who is coming off the board after being elected to the Pike County Board of Supervisors. Tobias is from Magnolia and graduated from South Pike High School. He has been in the in the limousine, medical transportation and real estate businesses for more than 30 years.

• Renewed an agreement with Insurance & Risk Managers of Brookhaven to insure commercial property including equipment breakdown, equipment coverage, commercial automobile physical damage and the volunteer fire department accident policy for 2020.

• Approved a one-year contract extension with Waste Management for solid waste collection and disposal at no change in rate.

• Approved an annual hardware and software support agreement with BBI Engineering for $6,865 for city accounting purposes.

• Approved a change order with Fiske International Group Corp., which installed 889 electronic water meters, fewer than the initial estimate of 1,000 meters, reducing the cost of the project by $36,075.

• Paid Miller & Miller Attorneys of McComb $560 for work to prepare notice given to the property owner at 401 Price St. and $560 for the property owner at 405 First St.

• Accepted into inventory 2004 and 2006 Ford F-150 SuperCrew pickups for the public works department and a 2007 Ford Explorer for the fire department.

• Authorized the mayor to sign an agreement between the city and the Public Employees Retirement System to adopt the Mississippi Government Employee’s Deferred Compensation Plan and Trust for eligible employees.

• Paid Mississippi State University $500 for work to review and update the employee handbook.

• Approved a list of budget amendments.

• Authorized city employees Ray Magee and Brent Mullins, Reynolds and Woodall to receive an extra week’s pay in lieu of a week’s paid vacation.

• Approved a request from Mercedes Ricks to block West Railroad Avenue in front of La Mariposa cafe for a 14th anniversary celebration of the business in March.

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