The Grand Jury completed a week’s worth of business July 19 at the Polk County Courthouse.
Britt B. Madden, Jr., served as foreman with Dan B. Lester III, vice foreman, and Dawn Tolbert, secretary.
One of the concerns of the group was helping the different cultures within the county.
A recommendation has been made to establish a multi-cultural panel that could address the needs of all communities, or races, within the county.
Seven Grand Jury members have been appointed to serve on a steering committee to determine the selection of panel members and responsibilities of the multi-cultural board.
Madden and Tolbert are two of those committee members. Others include Chandra Johnson, Docia Thaxton, Gary Forsyth, Vince Broome and Naomi Lowther.
This committee has agreed to do the legwork for the panel’s creation and report back during the next session of the Grand Jury with recommendations. That should be in November.
Increasing the county tax base is another concern of the Grand Jury, who will explore in the November session a proposed way to do so.
That proposal is adding a consumption tax to offset the cost of prosecuting consumption-related offenses.
The Grand Jury is asking the county manager, Clinton Lester, to research the impact a consumption tax and consumption licenses would have on Polk’s revenues and tax base.
In the meanwhile, the county administration is asked to continue and increase its efforts in attracting industry into the community.
In other actions, the Grand Jury:
—Followed up on a recommendation of the March Grand Jury regarding nepotism within the county. Lester said that an anti-nepotism policy is in place countywide for all county employees, excluding constitutional offices.
—Finds no apparent benefit in participating in the Tri-County Drug Task Force, as long as cooperative efforts are maintained with other regional and state law enforcement agencies. This conclusion came upon discussion with representatives of five law enforcement agencies during the July session.
—Asks for consistent use of recording of interviews in criminal investigations by all law enforcement agencies in the county. The jury feels the presence of video and audio records of these interviews will aid juries in determining the facts in cases presented to them.
—Recommends that all law enforcement agencies utilize the Dept. of Family and Children Services’ facilities and or other resources available for use in interviews and interrogations of juveniles. Also, all interviews of juveniles should be conducted by appropriate, qualified personnel.
—Perceives that the District Attorney’s Office would benefit from additional funding and at the same time believes this would reduce cost to the county for prosecution of uncorroborated cases.
—Commends the work of all public safety personnel in the county, including both career and volunteer personnel.
—Considered a total of 66 presentments, returning 57 as True Bills of Indictment.