I appreciate the citizens that had the courage to come before the Eastman City Council during the public comment time at the past meeting held on January 30th. I personally see these council meetings as not just a meeting where your elected officials carry out city business, but a forum for citizen’s citywide initiatives, commendations, and complaints. At this past meeting there were two separate members of our community that brought forth concerns relating to our Eastman Police Department.
Firstly, I must strongly reiterate that my peers and I on the Eastman City Council do not have the legal background or the legitimacy to interject our personal biases onto either of these situations, or any other local law enforcement case. Secondly, I have stated before and I will say it again, it is my expectation that the City of Eastman, Eastman City Council, and all its representatives and officers will elevate into their highest thought processes the importance of providing excellent service to this community. Hearing these citizen’s concerns and witnessing my own knee-jerk reaction to hearing those concerns has once again reminded me of how this community looks to solve problems. We talk at one another, but fail at building relationships. This oversight constrains us as a community from building trust and providing for a stronger community. As citizens we get frustrated and don’t trust our city representatives and elected leaders. As city leaders we get frustrated by citizens who don’t understand what our limitations are.
The members of this community must be willing to first direct their initiatives, commendations, and complaints to the departments and department heads that they feel have been deficient in their duties. This is where the relationship and discussion has to begin. Hopefully, both sides will be able to employ an empathetic dialogue that generates an amicable solution or at least a mutual agreement to politely disagree. The next level for redress of a grievance can be our city manager. Eastman’s City Manager is charged with overseeing the operation of Eastman and the various departments and individuals that keep our city moving. Then, above this level can be the city council. The city council was where two individuals came to the most recent meeting to bring forth their concerns relating to our police department. I thank them for sharing these concerns.
Speaking only for myself, I do not look to tell Eastman’s employees, department heads, or city manager how to do their jobs. I do look to help set prudent policies that deliver excellent service through these individuals. I seek to use a discerning eye to conceptually see how the pieces combine to make a stronger community, and how the City of Eastman breaks downs into these pieces to accomplish that goal. There is an old adage that says that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I want to hear about these weak links when we have failed to address citizen’s concerns as these citizens share them with the city at the various levels I have highlighted. In closing, I submit to you that I fully understand that Eastman will never be able to please all of its people all of the time. However, I do expect that Eastman will courteously and professionally listen to everyone and provide the same commitment to service to each and every person. If a citizen is forced to take a complaint outside of the boundaries of Eastman, they should not be able to say that their voice was not genuinely heard.