East Mountain Council to consider PD options tonight

East Mountain Police Department patrol vehicles sit outside East Mountain City Hall on Friday March 3, 2017. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

The East Mountain City Council plans to discuss options for its police department when it meets tonight.

There will be a period of public comment at the meeting, but the community is permitted to speak only about items that are on the agenda. The police department is on the agenda.

It is likely the council will be discussing three options that Upshur County Sheriff Larry Webb outlined for the city during a March 28 town hall meeting.

At the town hall meeting, Webb told the community it can re-establish a full-time police department, enter a cooperation contract with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office or dissolve the police department.

At the time, members of the community were vocal about the issue with most saying they did not want to see the city re-establish a full-time police department that was under the City Council’s control.

Most people indicated support for either contracting with the sheriff’s office to have a full-time deputy stationed in East Mountain while also maintaining Matt Graham, East Mountain’s lone police officer, as a city-employed officer.

Others indicated support for dissolving the police department altogether and only relying on Upshur County. Still, others, indicated they would like to see the entire city dissolve.

East Mountain and its police department have been under scrutiny since the fall when the city faced a series of lawsuits, most of which pertained to the police department and its then-Chief Betty Davis.

Those lawsuits, on March 13, resulted in a settlement that called for the resignation of the city’s police chief and mayor. Simultaneously, all but one member of the East Mountain police force resigned.

The item to consider options for the police department is the seventh and final item on the council’s agenda tonight. Other agenda items include to consider denying a SWEPCO request for a rate increase, re-zoning the corner of FM 1844 and FM 1845, and an item that simply reads “City of East Mountain spending and finances.”

The council meets at 6 p.m. today at East Mountain City Hall.