Apparently, State Sen. Mitch Sebaugh called City Attorney Drew Whalen and claimed that the city ordinance was null and void. City Manager Kenny Smith said that Sebaugh believed that “some legislation he passed last year would be in conflict with our ordinance.”
City Attorney Drew Whalen said that over the summer, the Police Department had contacted him regarding a growing problem with metal being stolen and circulated through pawn shops and metal recycling centers.
Whalen crafted the ordinance in response to the problem, an ordinance he based on the measures that other municipalities had taken to deal with the problem.
However, the state legislature had passed a law, written by Sebaugh, covering “secondary metal recyclers.” When the Griffin Police Department attempted to apply the municipal ordinance to metal dealers in the city, Blaze Recycling objected, claiming that they were a “secondary metal recycler” under the state ordinance and were therefore not subject to the city ordinance.
Whalen said that there is overlap between “scrap metal dealers” and “secondary metal recyclers” but in the state law, the two terms are not used consistently.
Although Sebaugh is a state senator, Whalen said that he does not know if he has any legal recourse - all he did was write the state ordinance. However, Blaze Recycling has hired an attorney and Whalen has been dealing with him.
“If we’ve gone too far, we’ll back up,” Whalen said. However, he said that he was under the impression that law enforcement intended to continue to apply the law.
The city doesn’t plan on letting up on metal thieves.
“We’ve got some ideas on how to deal with these folks even though we’re being held off in other areas,” Strickland said at the Monday meeting.
When asked to elaborate on what he was doing, Strickland said that the city was sending officers out to the metal dealers every day to see what is being brought in rather than wait on the dealers themselves to collect the records and send them in.
He also said that the Police Department was taking measures in the community itself, although he said that he did not wish to describe what those measures were in order to avoid tipping off metal thieves.