Archived Story

With change in 911, legal opinion no longer sought

Published 9:20am Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prosecutor says reversal makes issue moot


A legal opinion sought from the Lawrence County Prosecutor will not be coming following this past Thursday’s action by the county commission concerning the jurisdiction of the county 911 center.

On Jan. 11, Lawrence County Auditor Jason Stephens requested an opinion from Prosecutor Brigham Anderson concerning the legality of the commission removing the 911 dispatching from Sheriff Jeff Lawless.

That was an action that the commission had authorized on Jan. 10, almost a year after the commission had merged the 911 center with the sheriff’s dispatching system.

It was done as a possible way of preventing 22 employees from the 911 center and the sheriff’s office from being laid off because of budget cuts.

The next day Stephens asked for the prosecutor’s opinion and clarification from the commissioners in order to pay employees affected by the change.

“It is hard to tell exactly what money is to be moved to which account and taken from which account,” Stephens had said at the time.

However, at their Jan. 17 meeting, the commissioners reversed their previous action to have the sheriff remain in control of a merged 911 system and increased his budgets by $340,000.

Anderson had been researching past minutes of the commission to determine the kind of emergency system that had been instituted in the 1990s in order to give an opinion on who should be in charge of it.

But with the commission revoking its action, Stephens no longer sought the clarification.

“We will not issue an opinion,” Anderson said. “With the commission revoking the action they had done the week before …. there is no need for a legal opinion.”

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