Several cities in Alabama have public safety director positions, which are above the police and fire chiefs and typically communicate business with the mayor.

The position was questioned in Mobile after Police Chief Paul Prine was put on leave. With several positions between the police chief and the mayor, communication efficiency was examined, and some wondered if the position was necessary.

SEE ALSO: 'It's absolutely unnecessary': Mobile PD chain of command crowded with three positions between chiefs and mayor

The City of Auburn, with a population of just over 80,000, has had the position since 1989. The City of Auburn’s executive director of public safety, William Mathews, has been in public safety for over 30 years and has held the director position for just over one year. He explained his role to 1819 News.

“In a public safety organization, generally, the director has oversight on budgetary planning and implementation, annual goals and objectives of the underlying departments, and manages large projects and contracts for those departments,” Mathews explained. “This allows the police and fire chiefs to focus on their personnel and operational controls of their respective departments.”

Mathews said that, as far as communication is concerned, it is important for him to meet with the chiefs regularly.

“The best way to maintain effective communication is to communicate often and in person,” he said. “The chiefs’ offices are on the same hallway as mine. We see each other and discuss issues daily.”

Mathews said for the best working environment, it is essential for both chiefs and the public safety director to know each other’s roles in the organization.

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