The Town of Register will consider Thursday whether or not the now-nonexistent police department will be reinstated.
Conversations at the last two council meetings indicate that the town, now headed by Mayor Barbara Rushing, is leaning toward bringing back a police department. It is expected that the council appoint someone to serve as the interim police chief for Register until a more permanent decision is made by the council.
Opponents have expressed concern over the cost of operating a full-time police department in a town the size of Register. Others have complained about the so-called ‘speed traps’ on Highway 46 that deter people from other towns from passing through Register. The owner at the Store at Register has been one of the most vocal opponents to a police department say it hurts his business. And, of course, there is the infamous sign over the Candler County line telling drivers to watch out for Register Police.
Register indefinitely suspended their police department last fall with little opposition from the community following significant budgetary increases, due in part to the police department, and complaints from citizens about outrageous fines and egregious citations. The public safety budget for Register topped nearly $300,000 in the previous fiscal year and left the municipality in a dire financial straights. The town still owes money on a license plate scanner and is paying down debt from other police equipment, including a vehicle, though it has been paid down substantially in the last year.
Register, population 173, has seen considerable turnover since the start of the new year as Mayor John Williams stepped down after admitting to cleaning out a police evidence locker and allegedly disposing of alcohol and other items. Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Rushing stepped in as mayor of the town and has been serving in that capacity ever since. The council has been working diligently to remedy the financial concerns and has made strides in reducing their debt while refilling reserve coffers.
The next meeting for the Town of Register is scheduled for Thursday, July 7, 2016 at 5:30 P.M. at Town Hall.