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A&P wants to clarify fuzzy rate schedule for WM RiverPAC event security

A&P wants to clarify fuzzy rate schedule for WM RiverPAC event security


A&P wants to clarify fuzzy rate schedule for WM RiverPAC event security

Commissioner thinks variable charges, requirements ‘ causing a problem of perceived inequity’

Security. Any big public event has it.

When groups are gathered in West Memphis, off-duty police officers take up security positions — at games, concerts and conventions. The RiverPAC at the West Memphis Civic Complex is no exception.

Recently, the city’s Advertising & Promotion commissioners took a look at the current security policy, called it convoluted, and called for clarity by the next meeting.

At issue is a current security policy that calls for more security at certain types of events than others.

Security levels, they noted, are low for church-sponsored gatherings, higher for music events and events aimed at teenagers, and even higher for other types of shows. While security levels fall into a handful of classifications, the cost and the exact number for the security detail needed for an event was found to be vague.

The hourly rate to have certified police officers was up in the air as well, making it even harder to estimate security expenses for event organizers looking to book at RiverPAC.

A spreadsheet prepared by RiverPAC Executive Director Joe Beasley showed groups had been charged anywhere from a special rate for the VFW of $14.05 per-hour to $50 per-hour for dance recitals, some church groups, debutantes and a masquerade party.

For one group, the Docettes, charges grew from $25 per-hour in 2013, to $30 in 2014, to $50 in 2015.

City Councilman James Pulliaum presented his concerns about security charges at the center when a gospel talent contest approached the city about using the civic center for a convention in 2017.

When it convened in the RiverPAC last March, they exclusively booked hotel convention space. Now the Jackson Music Awards has approached the A& P for expense reimbursement and asked to expand, adding the city’s RiverPAC to its local venues.

Not only have the hourly A&P

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rates varied, but so have the number of security officers required for coverage. That policy seemed fuzzy to commissioners as well.

“How much are you going to charge them?” asked Pulliaum. “We need to have a policy set. If you are having a gospel event (you need) this number of officers. If you hare having dance event, you should have this number. I don’t think you should have just a range of 10-15 listed. It needs to be set.”

The current security policy states, “The number of WMPD security officers required for a lessee is determined by the Executive Director and the West Memphis Police Chief. It varies depending on the type of event. The following covers most event types: concert (blues, R& B, etc.) — 6 to 10 officers; gospel plays or concerts — 4 to 6 officers; dance competitions — 2 to 4 officers; comedy, rap, step dancing — 20 to 30 officers (if allowed); recitals or musicals — 1 to 4 officers.”

Beasley said he worked with Police Chief Donald Oakes to set up the chart.

“I just want some understanding,” said Mayor Bill Johnson. “The police chief is sworn to protect and serve and that’s why we have a position on it. By law, we have to pay timeand- a-half overtime for our people to work it. It’s not a flat charge.”

The commission prompted Beasley to get an hourly rate figure from City Treasurer Frank Martin.

Commissioners continued to pursue setting more details in place for clarity.

“I am not sure why it is from 6-10,” said Commissioner Troy Keeping.

“That’s what is creating the problem. So why don’t you go back to the chief and figure how many security officers are required per type of event. Set a number based on event. We get an hourly rate from the treasurer.

Then we can say this

will be your security charge.”

“I am trying to figure out why you need to have 2030 officers to come to a step dance,” said Pulliaum.

“This variable is causing a problem of perceived inequity, with all due respect Mr. Mayor, that is the problem,” said Commissioner Troy Keeping.

“It based on our past experience and experiences elsewhere,” said the Mayor. “We had a massive fight three or four years ago. We had to call in 14 officers from home to get it under control.”

Commissioners directed Beasley to make a table with the type of event, the number of people expected, and the number of off duty policemen required to plug into the set hourly police security.

The completed spread sheet is due for the A& P commissioners to review at the August meeting.

By John Rech

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