Craig city official spends eye-opening day with local code enforcement officer

At least one elected official in Craig has changed his mind about local code enforcement work after doing a ride-along with an enforcement officer. 

Council member Chris Nichols reported to Craig City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 22, that his recent ride-along with a code enforcement officer changed his perspective on the work going on within the department and the importance of funding a full staff. 

In a Wednesday phone call, Nichols explained that he’s been critical about code enforcement addressing local concerns over the past year. There are a number of code violations that Nichols saw as problems including overgrown weeds during the warmer months, junk and dogs at large.

The council member expressed his concerns to City Manager Peter Brixius and Craig Police Chief Mike Cochran, saying that he had a hard time voting to pass the final budget with those issues in mind. 

After hearing the concerns, Chief Cochran suggested Nichols do a ride-along with one of the code enforcement officers. On Tuesday, Nichols reported that he’d done a five-hour ride-along, and the experience changed his perspective about the officers’ work in the community. 

“Just to sum it up, I am not sure who else would do these functions if we didn’t fund that position,” Nichols told his fellow City Council members. 

Code enforcement officers are tasked with following up on complaints about property maintenance or land-use violations within city limits. Some of the more common issues are brush and weed violations during the summer, as well as junk vehicles and properties with excessive litter. 

Nichols explained that there is a lot of unseen work that needs to be done around Craig, ranging from chickens and ducks at large to weed violations and serving property owners for code violations. 

During the five hours that Nichols joined the shift, the officer didn’t take a lunch break and still had seven calls to respond to before the end of the day, Nichols said.

Nichols added that he came to the conclusion the officers spend the majority of their shifts going from call to call, and he felt like some of the concerns could be better addressed if the code enforcement officers were fully staffed. 

Chief Cochran was not available for comment on the code enforcement vacancies, but city officials said that the department has been understaffed for over a year and half. There have been several issues causing the vacancy, including injuries and medical leave, and it’s left the department with one code enforcement officer to fill in for two positions. 

Nichols told Council on Tuesday that the ride-along was informative, and he encouraged other council members to do ride-alongs with anyone in the local police department or any city department head.

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