Police uniform cost causes flap

INGALLS — Ingalls Town Council took time during its meeting last week to address concerns about the purchase of police uniforms and how those funds are distributed. One board member questioned the timing of a request for funds, which drew a heated response from the interim town marshal, Chris Thompson.

Each officer is allowed a $200 allowance twice per year — once in the spring and once in the fall — to purchase seasonally appropriate uniforms.

“I think it’s something we need to take a look at,” president Tim Green said. “If you look at the salary ordinance, it calls for $5,000 for police uniforms. It doesn’t say how that is broken down, it just says $5,000. Now, all of a sudden, you take this LLEC (Local Law Enforcement Compensation) money, and it’s over that $5,000. I think we need to look at the salary ordinance and address the clothing allowance and how we’re going to deal with that.”

Council member Chris Bradshaw asked about the timing of a recent withdrawal of money from the LLEC, originally designed for training. The fund receives $4 from each ticket written for violation of a state statute.

“When you came to us with that request,” Bradshaw told Clerk-Treasurer Kip Golden, “you said it was probably because (Thompson) was going to be going on vacation.”

Thompson said he resented the implication of the statement, stressing he made the request when his officers asked him about the money.

“I want to elaborate further on that,” Thompson said. “I don’t appreciate at an open meeting saying that I took a $200 clothing allowance to go on vacation.

“When I took over, I was not given any direction. I was given the SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) and told, ‘Good luck.’ I never have sat down with any board member and (been) told the parameters of what I can and can’t do — never had that conversation. I take a vacation every March; that’s my time with my kids, and we go to Florida.”

He said he referred to the operations manual when he was questioned by his reserves about a uniform allowance.

“Page 1.9, Section O, says ‘Uniform allowance’,” he said. “All members are eligible for a uniform allowance to be distributed at the discretion of the chief.”

Golden said he was told uniform allowances have always been paid out of the LLEC fund. Green suggested the department use an account with the stores where the uniforms are purchased rather than using cash reimbursements.

In other town business:

• The council established a subcommittee to oversee the hiring of a permanent town marshal. A town ordinance states the marshal must live in the town limits, but Green and others don’t believe that’s necessary. The subcommittee, comprised of Bradshaw, council member Justin Gardner and town manager Tim Millikan, will explore what proximity of residence is acceptable.

• Millikan’s request for $2,980 to repair the town’s 2006 Ford F350 was approved by the board. Millikan also announced the restrooms and water fountains at the town parks are open and available for use.

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Rob Hunt covers news, sports and other happenings in South Madison County. He can be reached at rhunt@pendletontimespost.com or (765) 778-2324.