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Nelson Mayor comments on police coverage: Town needs police officers to do more than sit on porches

By David Leister

Nelson Mayor

In this first of what I hope will be many articles about the City of Nelson, I would like to thank the Pickens County Progress for the opportunity to communicate openly with the citizenry.

Recently I evoked a very strong response from a small group of citizens with the use of the word ‘out-sourcing.’ While it succeeded in pulling citizens into the city council meeting as I had hoped, I am not certain that they were of a mind to hear what the reasons were for discussing it. Too often we realize that the best of intentions may not have wide acceptance and are often blurred by the emotions of the moment. Such was my night on May 2, 2011.

[Resident Brian Cain of North Avenue said, “Efficiency is not as important as safety. People are willing to pay for security.” They demonstrate that when they buy security systems and firearms, he said. “You’re willing to pay for security. Don’t forget that.” Cain advised other residents in the audience, “When you want a policeman up there, it’s worth it.”] Pickens County Progress, Thursday, May 5, 2011.

The comments of Officer Cain while intended to refute my call for open discussions, were very supportive. The very week that he made those statements and other citizens agreed with him, insisting that I resign, our lone police officer finished his week ‘in-service’ by Thursday afternoon. Our city went unprotected from 4:30 Thursday afternoon until 11:30 Monday morning. Furthermore, our city has had no weekend coverage for the past three weeks. As an example, in the month of April only one traffic ticket and six tall grass citations were issued. The city court for May was canceled leaving the city attorney and criminal court clerk with significantly reduced work loads that taxpayers are still paying for.

The city council has, since August, allowed a decline in both coverage time and visibility stating that they wanted a police officer that would stop and sit on porches, as in the fictional town of Mayberry.

They, despite the phenomenal job of stopping crime in Nelson carried out by Officer Jim Van Alstine, refuse to acknowledge that Nelson has crime. In 2006 a meth lab across the street from a council member went unnoticed by the city officials.

They have continued to turn the same blind eye to the city’s decline over the past 50 years. For the past year I have asked the city council to be active in interviewing and fully staffing Nelson’s police department to insure the quality of life and security that  the citizens of Nelson expect.

Instead, they have reduced in-service time and failed to maintain their responsibilities.

Why should concerned citizens buy security systems and firearms instead of having the benefit of the one full-time and two part-time officers they are taxed for? While under my direction the police covered peak times and were very visible.

I have suggested various scheduling strategies for the police and have had them all rejected. We need all of our elected officials to have our safety and the future of Nelson as their singular purpose rather than simply labeling of the mayor a trouble-maker for speaking out.  I have been told to ‘stay in line and know my place.’ I do and it is not under anyone’s thumb, including that of the city council. Nelson needs its citizens involved now.             Please make time to guide your elected officials to save our city and to breathe life back into your community.

I would like to hear from you regarding this or any other topic for discussion. You can call 678-820-9872, e-mail me at [email protected] com or send a letter to David Leister, Mayor, 1985 Kennesaw Avenue, Nelson, Ga. 30151.



+3 #1 Stopthemadness 2011-05-25 17:53
Mr. Mayor I am sorry that the town of Nelson lives in the 30's and you have to deal with it. I am further more sorry that in this area ignorance is bliss and people love to live in it.

What I am really sorry for is that you are trying very hard to make your town a safe place and are being spit on for it.

But remember this most of the reason they don't want change is change is different and to people set in their ways change is very frightening. Not to mention a lot of people still think it is o.k. to drink and drive and you bringing real law enforcement in would stop that from happening.
+5 #2 Teresa 2011-05-25 22:00
YAY!!!! Mayor David Leister has hit the nail right on the head. If people will listen to him I think they will understand that he has only the best of interest for the City of Nelson. That he truly loves the town and wants only the best for it.
+4 #3 liz 2011-05-26 10:28
Mayor Leister, A police presents is very important to every city, town or parrish - no matter how large or samll the community is. I think that based on the article in the P.P. I have read that you are doing a GREAT job in trying to bring Nelson up to speed with the rest of Pickens County. Keep up the good work.
+4 #4 Mike 2011-05-26 19:05
Mayor, If you had a city council that would stay out of Police affairs and how the police dept runs, you might be able to see an end to crime. But with one councilman who thinks he's the GOD of Nelson, you'll never keep a decent Police Officer who is willing to do the job! He needs to shut up and stay home!!!!
+4 #5 Rosie 2011-05-28 11:45
Get rid of your city employees who plot against you.
David Leister
+3 #6 David Leister 2011-06-02 16:11
I'd like to thank all of you for taking time to comment. I do get words of encouragement but it isn't often. Far to often, it is only the past and present council members and their friends and family telling me to stop the 'drama' and do what I am told.

Since this article was published the city has had the same level of weekend police service described and the city council has made no effort to cover the city's needs. Monday's City Council meeting will be eventful.

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