Turner police problems, North Main accident issues addressed

By Gary Scott on October 1, 2015 at 12:34pm

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard renewed a push for City Council to approve a second School Resource Officer for District 117.

Ezard told aldermen during Wednesday morning’s Public Protection Committee he spoke to District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek last week.

With a contract set to expire with the current SRO, Ezard’s plan is to have a three-year contract with the district include one officer at Jacksonville High School and one at Turner Jr. High School.

Ezard says he wants to start the new officer at Turner after Christmas break.

Jacksonville Police Chief Tony Grootens and Deputy Chief Chad Moore echoed the remarks of the mayor when he said hiring an SRO for Turner, which will be re-named Jacksonville Middle School, when he said it would “solve a lot of problems before they start.”

“The first week was terrible. How many times were we out there?” Grootens asked Moore during the meeting.

“Every day, at least once, ice not multiple times a day. It was terrible,” Moore responded.

“It was horrible this year,” Grootens said. “Quite frankly, we needed this for a long time, as [former police chief Don] Cook said. I’m just glad we haven’t had anything serious happen there, up until now. But, this year has been unique.”

The new SRO would also patrol Lake Jacksonville, Nichols Park and other parks and lakes in the city.

As part of the move, if approved by aldermen, the Jacksonville Police Department would add a new patrol officer.

After yesterday’s Public Protection Committee, we caught up with Mayor Ezard and also asked him about traffic issues. Commenters on the WLDS-WEAI News Facebook page demanded the city do something about the intersection of North Main and West Douglas.

Two accidents- both involving police cars- have happened at that intersection in less than three weeks.

After the first accident, Ezard says he contacted the city engineer and other officials to look into making a change.

“At this time, we are probably taking the steps to remove the fencing that we feel right now does obscure the view when you look towards the north on North Main. It’s not just because of the police officer’s accident, but I’ve had close calls myself, and I drive a tall utility vehicle and have a hard time looking over the fencing,” Ezard says.

“So, we are going to address this, and we take this very serious, and we hear what the public has to say about this.”

Ezard says the city could look into putting a four-way stop sign in as well.

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Department is still investigating the second crash. Chief Deputy Mike Carmody says no citations have yet been issued for the accident on Tuesday, or for the accident that happened earlier this month.