Foley council votes to reduce police jurisdiction to one and a half miles

By Jessica Vaughn
Posted 9/14/21

FOLEY - The Foley council suspended the rules in order to pass an ordinance to reduce its policing jurisdiction from three miles to one and a half miles during the Sept. 7 council meeting. The matter …

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Foley council votes to reduce police jurisdiction to one and a half miles

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FOLEY - The Foley council suspended the rules in order to pass an ordinance to reduce its policing jurisdiction from three miles to one and a half miles during the Sept. 7 council meeting. The matter was time sensitive in nature, causing the need for suspending the rules.

“Cities within Baldwin County, really across the state, are working their way through a recent law that was passed by the legislature that affects what city authorities are outside their city limits,” said City Administrator Mike Thompson in reference to Senate Bill 107, authored by Senator Chris Elliott (R-Daphne). According to SB 107, cities can retract jurisdictions in increments of half a mile all the way to city limits, which would effectively do away with the jurisdiction. While, according to Thompson, some cities are doing just that, Foley council decided to continue to maintain a mile and a half of police jurisdiction. Under current state law, there is no mechanism to increase jurisdiction after a reduction takes place. Once a city makes a change, no further changes can be made for the following 24 months. Changes to the police jurisdiction will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

“The thing I want to reiterate is that Foley has always been a good neighbor to all of the surrounding communities and to the people that live around us, who trade here and are our neighbors,” said Mayor Ralph Hellmich. “We will continue to be there for them. The major change will be that outside of the one and a half miles, we will not be what they call primary, but we will still be responding just like we do now. We have agreements with our surrounding communities that we will provide fire service, that’s mainly what this pertains to … I want to point out to everybody that we’re still going to be a good neighbor, we’re still going to be responding and we’re going to be helping our neighbors. That’s what it’s all about.”

Hellmich said aside from the police jurisdiction, which is the most immediate concern, further changes will come in 2023 to extra-territorial jurisdictions and planning jurisdictions. During 2023, municipalities will see planning jurisdictions go to one and a half miles. Many municipalities are working with the county to form agreements about the future of planning jurisdictions.

“We basically have three things, an ETJ, a planning jurisdiction and a police jurisdiction,” said Hellmich. “Having those pretty much synonymous at one and a half miles makes sense.” He said city staff is currently meeting with Baldwin County to work out an agreement on the future of Foley’s ETJ.