By Adam Smith
The North Jefferson News
The Gardendale City Council Monday approved the promotion of two Gardendale Police officers.
Sgt. Marty Brown was promoted to lieutenant and Officer Jerry Suggs was promoted to sergeant. Brown’s promotion fills a void left by the retirement of Lt. Kevin Howell.
Howell, who announced his retirement in October, has been out on leave. His retirement becomes official on Dec. 1.
The council voted at the Nov. 5 meeting to create a new lieutenant’s position. Councilman Billy Flippo pointed out that if the department has officers eligible for the new position, they should be considered for appointment to that position.
Chief Mike Walker said at the meeting that the second lieutenant slot would not be filled until he had “more officers on the street.” The department currently has five openings for police officers. “We can’t have too many chiefs and not enough Indians,” Walker said on Tuesday.
Walker said there is a nationwide officer shortage and Gardendale and Jefferson County are also feeling the effects. He also said some who apply to the Jefferson County Personnel Board and take the police officer tests aren’t qualified on a physical level. When the department hires new officers, it can also take up to a year to train each person.
Brown and Suggs’ names were on a two-year-old candidate list provided by the personnel board. However, Walker said the board recently did a new round of testing for sergeant and lieutenant, and that list should be available at the first of the year.
Brown came to the department in 1992, after previously working in Tarrant and Irondale. He has 23 years of experience as a police officer.
“I’m kind of excited about the new challenges,” Brown said of his promotion. “We’re working under a new chief and there’s a new structure. ... I think we’ll reach our goals.”
Brown said his duties would be split between patrol supervisor and administrative duties. Walker said those duties will be divided when the second lieutenant is hired.
Suggs has been with the department for nine months and previously worked for the Mountain Brook Police Department for 17 years.
“I’m qualified to do the job,” Suggs said. “I’m grateful and I appreciate the council and chief’s confidence in me.”
In other business, the council:
• authorized bids for a new rubber tire backhoe loader to be used by the Public Works Department. Bids are to be returned by Dec. 3.
• assumed the monthly payment of an existing street light on Phillips Drive
The council will meet again on Dec. 3 at 6 p.m.
By Adam Smith