by Danny Wade
Humboldt police officers will soon have a new weapon in their arsenal to fight crime after the Humboldt Board of Mayor and Aldermen took action during the January 23 meeting.
On a request from the Humboldt Police Department, the city board requested bids for PhaZZers for policemen. PhaZZer is similar to a Taser, but made by a different company.
Mayor Marvin Sikes opened the sealed bid during Monday’s meeting. Only one bid was submitted, which was for just under $15,000.
Humboldt Police Chief Rob Ellis spoke to the board about the PhaZZers. He said the PhaZZers would be paid for by a grant. Mayor Sikes added that the grant will fully fund 100-percent of the bid.
Alderman Robert Shivers asked how many PhaZZers will the department be getting.
Chief Ellis said the bid was for 21 units. Each unit includes a PhaZZer and one cartridge. Three additional cartridges were included in the bid to use for training. He said additional cartridges cost around $28 each and can only be used once. Ellis noted that when an officer pulls out the weapon, most of the time the perpetrator obeys the officer’s command. The threat of being tazed stops criminals.
Ellis told the board there are two companies that make less lethal devices, PhaZZer and Taser. The department decided to go with the less expensive PhaZZer. Ellis also noted the Madison County Sheriff’s Department uses this brand and will provide Humboldt police with training.
Mayor Sikes told the board that Humboldt was probably the only city in the area that does not use them.
Alderman Leon McNeal asked Chief Ellis if the training included officers being tazed. Ellis said it is often done but not mandatory. He said the board was welcome to attend the training session.
Some of the aldermen joked and asked if certain aldermen could be tazed during the training, which brought laughs from the board.
The board unanimously approved the bid.
In other city business:
•The board approved a resolution to file an application for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for sewer system improvement project. The resolution states the city is seeking $525,000 for a $603,448 project with the balance being provided by Humboldt Utilities.
Randy Nelson spoke about the grant and how the funds would be used. He said this was a new application for funding that has to be submitted by February 24. He said the city is an eligible applicant.
Alderman Don Graves said the Humboldt Utility Board is in the process of updating the sewage plant and asked if this grant would apply to that.
Nelson said, “Absolutely and the grant was a key component.” He noted the grant would fund the equipment at the plant.
Alderman Bob Pruett asked if all the money would be for the wastewater treatment plant. Nelson said it was.
Mayor Sikes said people will see a big difference at the lagoon. He also said the mayor’s office has received complaints of the smell and this should alleviate the odor.
•The board approved the December fire and police reports as well as the 2016 police report.
The Humboldt Fire Department responded to three house fires, two wrecks, two stand-by for medical helicopters, three fire alarms, two grass fires, one barbecue pit fire and two public assistance calls.
The report also showed the department ended the year with 250 total calls answered in 2017.
Mayor Sikes and the board honored Fire Chief Chester Owens with a proclamation in recognition of 40 years with the Humboldt Fire Department and his service to Humboldt.
The police report for December showed HPD answered 35 alarms, assisted with 10 funerals, issued 33 warning tickets and had 1,184 total complaints. There were 101 speeding citations written, 35 proof of insurance, 26 revoked/suspended/expired driver’s license, 19 theft of property, 19 domestic assaults, 18 vandalism, 14 violation of registration, 12 financial responsibility, 11 auto accidents and numerous other incidents.