Coalton Village Council conducted its first meeting of 2017 on Tuesday evening, Jan. 3, and law enforcement was one of the main topics.
The village had its own police department for quite a few years, but starting in August 2015, law enforcement services have been provided on a contractual basis by the Jackson County Sheriff's Office with a full-time deputy committed to covering the village.
Three recent robberies in the village, one at a convenience store and two others at local homes, understandably have village officials and residents alike concerned.
Major Rob Chalfant of the sheriff's office attended the council meeting to address communication issues regarding the village's law enforcement services. Chalfant stated that he would have the deputy compile a monthly report for village officials which would provide a synopsis of his activities in the village and would also provide statistics from 2016 once they are compiled.
As for the robberies, Chalfant indicated much time and work has been spent on an ongoing investigation and there were suspects in the case. However, he said there was some information which could not be shared at this time. Mayor Kim Milliken said she understood this.
Later in the meeting, and after Chalfant had departed, former Coalton Village Marshal Butch Anderson, while not being critical of the sheriff's office, asked, "Why don't we have a police department?"
Mayor Milliken assured Anderson that the village is getting 40 hours of coverage from the sheriff's office and she even called Chalfant on the telephone and put him on the speaker so he could verify this to Anderson and everybody else. Chalfant said the village, in fact, receives more than the 40 hours of service for which it pays.
"We don't have 24/7 coverage and we can't afford 24/7 coverage," Mayor Milliken told Anderson.
Councilman Jim Milliken noted he was not initially a fan of the sheriff's office contract, but is now in favor of it. He says he feels the village has 24/7 coverage because the sheriff's office will provide extra patrolling and also respond when service is needed outside of the contracted time period.
"I'm very pleased with the sheriff's contract," Mr. Milliken concluded.
Both Millikens said Coalton residents need to be prepared to protect themselves and should be very vigilant and cautious.
Mayor Millken observed, "It up to us to protect what is ours."
Councilman Milliken advised, "People need to keep their doors locked and if someone comes to the door, don't answer it if you don't know them."