Animal services

Scarlett Chow pets a dog that is available for adoption at Decatur Animal Services in Decatur on Monday.

Mayor Don Kyle has proposed moving Decatur Animal Services under the Police Department in a continued reorganization of city operations, an idea that has members of the Animal Shelter Board concerned.

Kyle and Human Resources Director Richelle Sandlin last week presented the plan to the Personnel Board. The plan calls for hiring an Animal Services manager who would answer to the Police Department.

That “would be like placing me as a vet over a golf course,” veterinarian and Animal Shelter Board Chairman Steve Osborne said Monday.

Kyle said Monday he plans to make the proposal at a City Council meeting later this month.

The mayor wants Animal Services, which runs the animal shelter on Beltline Road Southwest, to become a “quasi-division” of the Police Department in the same way Public Works recently was placed under Rickey Terry in the newly named Street and Environment Services Department, which also includes the landfill.

“Animal Services would be run by a manager instead of a director, and placing it under the Police Department would enhance coordination between the two (police and Animal Services),” Kyle said.

The Police Department already has begun changing its structure in response to the proposal. On Monday, Lt. John Crouch became liaison to Animal Services, and Lt. Proncey Robertson took over Crouch’s duties as public information officer.

Replacing Melson

The city has been seeking a replacement for interim Director Danny Melson, who announced he will retire in August. The city’s advertisement for a full-time director said the annual salary would be between $52,962 and $81,068, plus benefits.

Kyle said an Animal Services manager would have the same duties as a director, and the pay likely would be close to the same, depending on experience. The main change would be the manager would answer to the police chief through the Police Department’s command structure.

Kyle said the change meets his long-range goal of reducing the number of directors and creating a “more vertical” city employee structure. Any savings in the change would be minimal, the mayor said.

“The military recommends that only four to six people report to any one person, and, currently, there are 14 or 15 directors,” Kyle said. “That’s way too many people.”

Osborne said he learned about the proposal Monday afternoon from a third party. He said he has a lot of questions, including how his board would function in the future.

“I don’t know why they haven’t presented it to our board,” Osborne said.

Members of the city’s Animal Shelter Board raised concerns about Kyle’s proposal at a meeting Monday night. They requested Osborne schedule a called meeting with Councilman Charles Kirby, the liaison to the board, to obtain more details about whether the organizational change would affect shelter operations.

Osborne said his initial reaction to the proposal is unfavorable. He said his concern is the change would de-emphasize the services provided by the shelter after they’ve worked so hard to make it a successful standalone department. Animal Services originally was under Public Works.

“I’m sure Lt. Crouch didn’t set out to be in animal services,” Osborne said.

Needed change

Kirby said this is a change he wanted in 2014 when then-Director Carol Wicks was terminated.

“We had some incidents in which the Police Department needed an animal control officer and didn’t get a response,” Kirby said. “This led to some animals being shot by officers.”

Kirby said animal services is under the Police Department in Florence and in Knoxville.

Personnel Board Chairman Harold Gilmore said his board supports the proposal.

“Animal services is under the Police Department in many of the cities I’ve been to,” Gilmore said.

Crouch said Monday he hasn’t been told what his duties will be or what the position will entail.

“All I know is I was told I’ll be taking over the animal shelter, and I won’t be PIO anymore,” Crouch said.

Crouch, also the PD’s fleet manager, said he’s also not sure whether any of his other responsibilities will change.

Robertson was named interim PIO effective Monday.

“Because of some shifts in responsibility that the Police Department is taking on, Lt. Crouch and myself have been temporarily reassigned until the new chief gets here and makes the final decision,” Robertson said. “I have done this job before, filling in and helping over the years.”

Robertson said because he leads the department’s school resource officers and community resources unit, he likely will be a good fit for the position. Also the PD’s Homeland Security coordinator, Robertson is liaison to the Morgan County Emergency Management Agency and federal agencies in the case of natural disasters or emergencies.

Incoming police Chief Nate Allen said the policies and procedures for the change, including reorganization of any Police Department positions, haven’t been finalized.

“All I can say for sure is the animal control officers will be under the Police Department,” he said. “We haven’t decided who will be assigned to that yet.”

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bayne.hughes@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2432. Twitter @DD_BayneHughes.

ashley.remkus@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2443. Twitter @aremkus1.

(17) comments

Jett the Angry Dwarf

Decatur appreciates the job Dr. Osborne and the Animal Shelter Board have performed, even when City Hall doesn't meet with or inform the Shelter Board. City Hall doesn't meet or consult their own Boards, is anyone surprised why they do not meet with the Board of Education.

The Animal Shelter Board stood up for our animals and Decatur when the former director was terminated. City Hall was happy to hear what they had to say when the Board was saying what City Hall wanted to hear. Now City Hall is making changes to the Shelter and ignoring the Board.

It is even stranger when you learn that the entire Personnel Board supports the action, but the Animal Shelter Board was not even consulted.

This may be a good change, but as usual, City Hall failed to communicate properly.

Jett the Angry Dwarf

It is about government in secret. And your stupid statements like "all Decatur will be better." You just will say whatever moronic thing comes into that chubby little head of yours won't you. Bankruptcy boy.

charles kirby

There was no government in secret. You want it to have been so, but it did not happen. Multiple times I asked in work sessions for this. You can continue calling your names, you can continue your zombie-like mindless attacks, but you still cannot create facts to support your attacks. Anyone who opposes your thought process provokes your hostility. That sounds really familiar.

Jett the Angry Dwarf

"All Decatur will be better for it." Really chucklehead? All of Decatur. Better because the dog catcher answers to the police chief. What a bold, daring and earth shaking move. You're a complete fking moron Charles. The point is you clowns do this stuff without even discussing it with anyone. It's half the reason everyone hates you. Now STFU and go get my shine box bankruptcy boy.

charles kirby

My, my, what a potty mouth. You act like a little spoild child with no manners, no self control, and some personal grudge....! This is about police officers who need animal control officers at times and were unable to get them. But, as always with your rants, FACTS RUIN YOUR STORIES.

LYNARD PATTERSON

VOTE TAB BOWLING FOR THE NEXT MAYOR OF DECATUR!![smile]

david kelley

anyone would be better that Don Kyle

Jett the Angry Dwarf

Assistant Pet Detective Charles Kirby!

Pamela Blakely

NEWS FLASH: Council majority consisting of Jackson, Kirby & Ard voted NOT to ask the Legislature to lower Decatur's police jurisdiction to 1.5 miles. Don't be surprised if someone blinks on this.

Pamela Blakely

News Flash --- this statement has ZERO to do with this article, Dwight!

Jett the Angry Dwarf

Charles Kirby acts like it is a done deal. Even though the new liason and the board know nothing. This is so sad to run a city this way in complete secrecy until decisions are made. One thing that is not a secret. Charles Kirby bankruptcy. Vote them all out.

charles kirby

It is clear you know not what you are talking about. This will happen and all Decatur will be better off for it. Cluelessness is its own reward! Take another med.

Pamela Blakely

Decatur appreciates the job Dr. Osborne and the Animal Shelter Board have performed, even when City Hall doesn't meet with or inform the Shelter Board. City Hall doesn't meet or consult their own Boards, is anyone surprised why they do not meet with the Board of Education.

The Animal Shelter Board stood up for our animals and Decatur when the former director was terminated. City Hall was happy to hear what they had to say when the Board was saying what City Hall wanted to hear. Now City Hall is making changes to the Shelter and ignoring the Board.

It is even stranger when you learn that the entire Personnel Board supports the action, but the Animal Shelter Board was not even consulted.

This may be a good change, but as usual, City Hall failed to communicate properly.

charles kirby

oop - spelling! Separate

charles kirby

One error in the article states that "animals have been shot"! To my knowledge, none have been shot. There is risk of this happening when the police department cannot get an Animal Control Officer. When the police department needs an ACO, they need it now; no excuses. This is done in many cities and works well. They are both involved in CODE ENFORCEMENT. I don't think Kyle was warm to the idea origionally. The time was right to do this with changes at the top of each in the works. Meantime, we hope the new "manager" will have all the same people friendly traits that Danny Melson can teach him/her. Seperate operations, seperate budgets, and other current aspects will not change. I believe the public will continue to see positive changes similar to the last two years.

Tim Gandy

The only thing those two departments have in common is they both have cages. And used for different reasons. On second thought, euthanizing the criminals when the jail gets overcrowded..............nevermind. Makes about as much sense as the Mayor's plan.

Jett the Angry Dwarf

Did you notice how many people that should be contacted about this were not? Don Kyle style leadership. No communication. Don Kyle did not serve in the military. But he wants to talk about military leadership. The city isn't the military! Has anyone asked why Kyle didn't serve? Most people his age had to. Not Kyle.

This idea is so dumb. DON KYLE - PET DETECTIVE.

Please vote this embarrassment out.

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