AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) – Augusta commissioners planning to hold a major meeting on the maintenance of the city, how it looks, and no doubt code enforcement will be a big part of that but in the future will the operation of the code enforcement division change.
Overgrown lots, nuisance properties are issues for Augusta Code Enforcement officers, commissioners say this is vital work as they look to clean up blight in the Garden City.
“We got to keep code enforcement and litter stuff going because if we don’t, it’s going to get worse, I’m hoping now we can meet with all of those agencies,” says Commissioner Marion Williams.
On Thursday, Code Enforcement Officer Charles Case was on 13th Avenue to re-hang a condemnation sigh on property owned by Smitty Melton.
Case was alone.
Deputies say Melton shot and killed him; this has some commissioners saying it’s time to rethink code enforcement as the city looks to step up citing property owner.
“The conversation we’ve going to have about cleaning up the community, I think we may look at going in a different direction,” says Commissioner Bill Fennoy.
That direction is to transition code enforcement to the Marshal’s Office, because of the dangers associated with the job.
“I think having a law enforcement background and training would also aid in some of their investigations. I think as we move forward on this, I think we’re definitely going to have to have these conversations,” says Commissioner Brandon Garrett.
Armed deputy marshals do accompany code enforcement officers on some calls but not all
“How far do we go to secure their safety? People don’t like other people carrying weapons so much but sometimes that’s what you have to do to show an element of enforcement and power and authority,” says Commissioner Dennis Williams.
“They certainly need some training but if you’re going to give them weapons, that looks more like the Sheriff’s Department,” says Commissioner Marion Williams.
With six votes could decide the operational status of code enforcement we spoke to the Marshal and Code Enforcement both saying at this time this is not something they are ready to discuss.
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