City leaders approved stipends for police officers to replace some of their gear as well as traffic safety upgrades for firefighter vehicles on Monday.
All 29 Jacksonville police officers will each receive $800 to replace any of their personal equipment this year if needed. Meanwhile, the city will spend a total of $6,000 to install units in Fire Department vehicles and ambulances that automatically change city traffic signals green when they’re traveling to emergencies.
The Jacksonville City Council approved the spending during its regular Monday meeting. The spending was included in the city’s fiscal 2018 budget, approved in September.
Jacksonville Police Chief Tommy Thompson said the city has provided his officers with some type of equipment maintenance stipend every year. The department does provide officers with boots, uniforms, badges and bulletproof vests. However, officers must buy and replace some of their own equipment, including their firearms, gun belts, holsters and flashlights, Thompson said.
“All that leather gear wears out … they can take that money to replace that gear,” Thompson said. “Before we gave them this money, they’d sometimes have to wait until their next payday to replace things like a $100 flashlight.”
The council also agreed to buy traffic signal preemption devices for six Fire Department vehicles. Once the devices are installed, the department’s vehicles will always have green traffic lights in the city whenever they’re responding to emergencies.
“It will give them green lights automatically,” said interim Fire Chief Keith Kadle.
Kadle said two of the new devices were already recently added to vehicles and the other six would be installed starting today.
“The devices work great — they work from about 300 to 400 feet away from the lights,” Kadle said.
The devices were made possible after the council upgraded all traffic lights in the city last year.
The $1.1 million project was paid for through the state’s Alabama Transportation and Rehabilitation and Improvement Program. The city only had to pay $100,000 of the project cost.
As part of the project, all of the city’s decades-old, wired traffic lights were replaced with energy efficient lights on metal posts. Sensors that change the signals based on traffic flow instead of a timer were also installed.
Also during the meeting the council rescheduled several of its upcoming meetings this year. The council’s May 28 meeting was moved to May 31.
The Nov. 12 and Nov. 26 meetings were moved back to Nov. 5 and Nov. 19 respectively.
Also, the council rescheduled its Dec. 10 and Dec. 24 meetings to Dec. 3 and Dec. 17 respectively.
Staff Writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.