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Police chief to present use of force policy; city manager to present 2021-22 budget

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — After receiving a request from city council members, Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes will provide an annual report of the department’s operations as well as its use of force policy at Tuesday’s meeting.

Council members will meet virtually at 6 p.m. The meeting will be streamed live at salisburync.gov/webcast and on the city’s Twitter account. Anyone who wishes to speak during the public comment period must sign up by 5 p.m. today by contacting City Clerk Kelly Baker at kbake@salisburync.gov or 704-638-5233.

At a May 4 Salisbury City Council meeting, a handful of local residents expressed anger and called for transparency from city leaders and local law enforcement officers regarding a 2019 traffic incident that’s now the center of a federal lawsuit alleging excessive force.

Stephanie Bottom, a 68-year-old from Georgia, filed a federal lawsuit in North Carolina’s Middle District about her treatment at the end of a 14-mile chase involving local law enforcement officers on Interstate 85 in 2019. In the suit, Bottom says law enforcement officers used excessive force, drew their guns during the stop, pulled her out of the car by her hair and tore her rotator cuff. She is requesting a jury trial, compensatory and punitive damages and the costs of court and attorney fees to be covered.

In addition to condemning the actions depicted in the body camera footage, public comments emphasized mistrust in local officers among Black and brown residents and called for city leaders to be transparent and hold law enforcement accountable.

Those comments prompted Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins to request a work session with city leaders and Stokes to discuss use of force policies and what role each person is expected to carry out. All council members agreed on hosting the discussion, but felt that it could occur during a regular meeting.

Also at the meeting, City Manager Lane Bailey will present the 2021-22 proposed fiscal year budget and set a public hearing for June 1.

In other agenda items:

• Council members will consider two rezoning requests. One is to rezone 7.55 acres comprising six parcels adjacent to North Craige Street, West Henderson Street, North Caldwell Street and Hobson Street from general residential and general residential/open space preserve to open space preserve only in preparation of the construction of a central operations center at Hurley Park. The other request is to rezone six parcels on the corner of West Marsh and South Ellis streets from general residential to urban residential and correct the split zoning of two parcels from general residential and historic residential to historic residential only.

• Council members will consider a recommendation regarding eligibility for listing the Ella Brown Cannon House, located at 202 Fulton St., in the National Register of Historic Places.

• Council members will consider approving the final subdivision plat S-01-21 for the first phase of Ashton Manor, accepting the streets for maintenance and adopting an ordinance establishing stop conditions.

• Council members will consider a request for the voluntary annexation of 8.75 acres on Peeler Road from PFJ Southeast, LLC.

• Council members will consider an ordinance amendment to the 2020-21 budget in the amount of $15,750 to appropriate donations received to support a deck repair and plant replacement at Hurley Park.

• Council members will consider authorizing the extension of a maintenance contract with Motorola for one year in the amount of $252,934 for the city’s telecommunications system.

• The council will consider adopting a resolution authorizing Stokes to renew a mutual aid agreement through the Centralina Regional Council.

• Council members will consider encroachment agreements with AT&T for directional bore and duct on North Arlington Street and Brenner Avenue.

• Council will consider a resolution accepting an offer of dedication for the right-of-way in the 300 block of Harrel Street, as well as adoption of an order to close an unimproved right-of-way referenced as Lloyd Street.

• Council members will continue making various boards and commissions appointments. Currently, the Human Relations Council has two vacant seats. The Planning Board has two regular seats and one ETJ set open.

• The council will recognize the retirement of Salisbury Police officer Shanita Millsaps with her sidearm and badge.

• Mayor Karen Alexander will proclaim the week of May 16-22 National Public Works Week and May 31 as Veterans Memorial Day.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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