We recommend a “no” vote on Amendment 11, a statewide referendum regarding municipal police jurisdictions that extend into Lawrence County.
The amendment would prevent municipalities in other counties from enforcing zoning or building codes in Lawrence County. It also would limit municipalities in their ability to provide safety services in the county.
The main problem with Amendment 11 is that — if it addresses a real problem — it should be in the form of statewide legislation, not a one-county amendment. Some Lawrence County residents are concerned that Decatur officials could impose regulations in the three-mile police jurisdiction, but be immune from political repercussions. This is true with every police jurisdiction in the state.
The only thing unique about Lawrence County on this issue is an argument against the amendment. Some in the county are working hard at economic development, with a recent success in the recruitment of Brown-Forman. Most industrial land in the county, including the Brown-Forman site, is within Decatur’s police jurisdiction. Industries need well-equipped firefighters and police. The amendment prohibits cities from providing police or fire protection in the absence of a mutual aid agreement.
There is no evidence that Decatur plans to impose zoning or building codes on Lawrence County. The county, which has chronic high unemployment, needs Decatur safety services to promote industrial development. This is an amendment that would create problems, not solve them.
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