By Adam Smith

The North Jefferson News

The City of Fultondale is looking to enact swift justice on anyone caught shoplifting during the holiday season.

Monday night, the council passed a resolution to appoint alternate municipal court judge Iris Kimbrough to hear cases almost immediately after a suspect is apprehended.

Police Chief Byron Pigg told the council that the ability to try cases swiftly will hopefully stop would-be criminals.

“Just the knowledge of knowing they will face a speedy trial and won’t have the chance to skip bail will be a good deterrent,” he said.

City officials said the speedy trials won’t apply to just shoplifters, but to any crime that occurs at a retail store, including violations of the city’s noise ordinance or fraudulent use of a credit card.

Mayor Jim Lowery said the judge, who will be on call, may try cases at the city’s mobile command center at the Promenade Shopping Center. He said the move will further ensure shoppers have a safe experience.

“It’s just another step in supporting our police department and deterring criminal activity,” he said. “We’re just trying to be prepared.”

City attorney Charlie Waldrep said Fultondale’s plan is similar to one enacted at Legion Field in Birmingham several years ago when the University of Alabama and Auburn University still played games there. Waldrep said the Birmingham Police Department had a municipal judge and court magistrate on site to try cases as suspects were arrested.

“They had a swift and speedy trial that allowed the judge to make a decision on whether a person was intoxicated or not,” he said.

Waldrep said a speedy trial in Fultondale will also allow the plaintiff, whether it be a business owner or other victim, to be at a defendant's trail in short order.

“Within 15 to 30 minutes, you can have all of this resolved,” he said. “It’s a good law enforcement tool.”

In other business, the council approved a resolution supporting a possible move of Bryce Hospital from Tuscaloosa to the former Carraway Hospital in north Birmingham.

Lowery reportedly met with acting Birmingham Mayor Roderick Royal and councilwoman Maxine Parker on Monday to discuss bringing the mental institution to the city. The move could mean employing at least 600 people.

“There’s lots of talk about regional cooperation and this is a step in that direction,” Lowery said. “If we can get a few successes in agreeing on some things, that will move us forward in the future.”

In other business, the council:

• approved business licenses for Iberia Bank, located at 1301 Decatur Highway and Fultondale Thereapeutic Massage, located at 1810 Decatur Highway

• set a public hearing date for Feb. 22, 2010 for non-compliance of an unsafe structure, located at 1917 Hyche Street

• had a public hearing and second reading of a proposed ordinance amending zoning ordinance No. 433 to add the subsection of “Liquor Lounge” under the “Special Exception Uses” to Article VIII.

The council will meet again on Dec. 28 at 11 a.m.

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