Public safety committee OKs court fee changes

Jefferson City’s legal language would be modified under two proposals approved Thursday morning by the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.

If approved by the full council, the legal language modifications would become the city government’s official endorsement of things that already could be done now.

Committee members approved a proposed ordinance authorizing the municipal judge to add a fee to the total costs, if the court has to issue a warrant to get someone to appear in court.

“That’s always been done by a judge’s order,” said Drew Hilpert, city attorney and interim city administrator. “However, the (recent municipal court) audit suggested we should, actually, have an ordinance to back that up.”

Borrowing language from Columbia’s ordinance, Hilpert said the Jefferson City ordinance should authorize a fee up to $50.

The committee also endorsed an amendment to the city’s agreement with Cole County’s government for joint communications services.

“The agreement now says we have to broadcast from here (the police station),” Hilpert explained. “We’re just saying we could also broadcast from our emergency backup center, if we needed to.”

The backup communications center will be part of the new Fire Station 3 now being built on Missouri 179, just north of West Main Street and Industrial Drive.

“The purpose of an emergency backup center is that it would be a seamless switch if this one goes down,” Hilpert said.

Although no one mentioned it during the meeting, in the past the police station has had temporary problems with electric service and with the 911 emergency service.

The joint communications center receives incoming emergency calls and dispatches police, sheriff’s deputies, fire departments, the ambulance service and first responders as needed, depending on the emergency situation and its location.

Hilpert said the additional language, authorizing the city to switch to the backup center without notice, “probably is not necessary, but we’re just covering our bases.”

He said Jill LaHue, the county’s legal counsel, knows about the additional legal language and is “fine with it.”

Both the City Council and Cole County Commission would have to approve the legal language before it became an official change to the agreement.

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