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City parks closed

Council OKs summonses instead of arrests in most cases

Basketball goals removed at West Park.

News Staff Writer

Atmore City Council adopted during a special session held Saturday morning, March 28, a resolution authorizing city police to issue a summons instead of making a physical arrest for most minor crimes until the COVID-19 pandemic runs its course.
Suspects will still be jailed for any crime involving violence or the threat of violence, and Police Chief Chuck Brooks said this week that several people have been jailed since the resolution went into effect for committing such crimes.
“Some mandatory arrests have been made,” the police chief said. “Our call volume has increased, and domestic-related calls have increased due to people having to stay home.”
Those who commit any crime involving alcohol or controlled substances are also subject to being locked up instead of being issued a summons, if in the opinion of the investigating officer the suspect poses a risk to public safety. Jail will also be in store for anyone committing a crime against a minor, and anyone who is caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Brooks urged those who need police assistance to use patience during the unprecedented situation.
“If you call, please be patient,” he said. “Some calls might not go through (to the APD’s main number, 368-9141), due to the high call volume, so call back if you don’t get through. Our dispatchers are having to get information to our officers, run names through the (NCIC) computer and answer calls from the public.
“If you have an emergency, and only if you have an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, just be patient.”
Mayor Jim Staff, City Clerk Becca Smith and all council members except District 3’s Chris Walker participated in the special council meeting, which was conducted by conference call. The resolution was the only item on the agenda, and the meeting lasted less than four minutes.
Staff also issued on Saturday an emergency health directive that closed all city parks to the public and ordered that all parks — including Tom Byrne Park, Houston Avery Park, Heritage Park, the Community Splash Pad-Playground and West Park — remain closed to the public until the current health emergency is over.
Brooks said the only incident related to the directive came on Sunday, when APD received a report — which proved inaccurate — of a golf tournament being held at Atmore Country Club.
“There were a lot of people there, but there was no golf tournament, and nobody was allowed inside the clubhouse,” Brooks said.