The Walker County Commission voted 3-1 on Monday to delay a decision on allowing community correction employees to be sponsored by the Walker County Sheriff's Office for state certification, …
The Walker County Commission voted 3-1 on Monday to delay a decision on allowing community correction employees to be sponsored by the Walker County Sheriff's Office for state certification, allowing them to make arrests.
A resolution calling for the action, which had been discussed last month by the commission, has been opposed by Sheriff Jim Underwood, who will leave office on Jan. 20. The commission agreed to postpone a decision until after Jan. 20, when a new sheriff will be sworn in.
Nick Smith was elected sheriff the day after Monday's meeting.
District 3 Commissioner Ralph Williams voted against the motion, saying after the meeting he felt a decision could have been made that day.
The resolution would call for Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training (APOST) certification, which is required for most law enforcement officers in the state. Lawyers for the county and community corrections were set to take more time to work on a resolution.
According to an earlier draft of the resolution, those sponsored for APOST certification would would be "employees of the Court Referral Services 14th Judicial Circuit Community Punishment and Corrections Authority, approved by the director" of that authority, which is currently Steven Shaver, who ran against Underwood and Smith for sheriff this year in the primaries.
Those approved by the director and sponsored by the Sheriff's Office would have their training paid for through the authority, according to the resolution.
The resolution notes the authority supervises many criminal defendants between the bail and bond process and adjudication of a case, as well as supervising many convicted criminal defendants in the county. It said the authority "is responsible for the supervision of more individuals than all other law enforcement agencies in Walker County combined."
Shaver told the commission last month the additional training would help the officers to do work in a safer, more efficient manner, and lead to a safer environment in the courthouse. Community corrections is already supervising county and state inmates, and inmates on probation, he said. They also supervise drug court, veterans court, defendants on bond, and those in pre-trial.
He said he is the only APOST-certified community correction official and those restricted to their homes under house arrest, who are checked on by community correction officials, are ready to be violent sometimes.
Violators visiting the community corrections office cannot be forcibly detained without the certification, as they are asked instead to wait for deputies to come. Those people have been known to leave because they could not be forced to stay, said Jasper attorney Greg Ellis, who is representing community Corrections.
However, Underwood questioned at the time whether taking the action would lead to another law enforcement agency and whether legislative approval would first be needed to grant APOST certification to community correction officials. He also questioned whether Shaver was a law enforcement officer, while Shaver said he was.