King, NC - It's not the first time a city considered dumping its police department. Now, some people in King are telling their city council to keep your hands off our officers.
The City of King is like most cities across our state. Council members are looking for ways to save money.
King's Police Department is the city's largest expense.
It costs more than $2 million a year to have a police department. Fire and Rescue are just below the police department, with a budget of $1.78 million. The town's budget is just over $5.9 million.
Right now, the city is looking to see if it can save money by disbanding the police department and turning over control to the sheriff's department.
City Manager John Cates said, "I think it's very normal for the citizens to want to express how they feel about a department that's as visible as the police department is no matter what town you're in. I understand how they feel and we're certainly going to make sure they get the law enforcement services they deserve."
City leaders will look at all departments to see where they can save money or cut costs. They're looking at the police department first because it's the most expensive department. At this point, nothing is even close to being finalized. However, even the suggestion of cutting the police department has angered some community members.
Community organizer Stephen James said, "If they really have an interest in staying the political part of King, then they need to listen to what the majority of the citizens have to say."
James is organizing a meeting Monday night to gather signatures to let the city know how many people are against making cuts to or disbanding the police department.
King's city manager tells WFMY News 2 decreasing property values could affect the town's revenue within the next few years. That's why council members are trying to take action now to prevent a potential tax increase later. The city manager also says if the town ends up with extra money because of cuts, that money could potentially go back to the taxpayers in the form of lower taxes.
There's no way to know yet if switching to protection from the sheriff's department would save money. That's because city leaders need to see if Stokes County is even interested in covering the City of King.
Plus, the level of coverage and number of deputies assigned to the area will also affect the cost. King council members must make a final decision by June 30. That's when they'll approve the city's budget.
Another Triad town disbanded its police department several years ago. We looked at the budget for law enforcement when Yanceyville had a police department and when the town contracted with the sheriff's office.
2006-2007 Police Department Budget: $297,623.00 (Full unit: 7-11 officers)
2007-2008 Police Department Budget: $336,223.72 (Full unit: 7-11 officers)
2008-2009 Police Department Budget: $295,623.72 (reduced force to 5 officers)
2009-2010 - Eliminated the Police Department
2009-2010 Sheriff's Department Contract: $210,500 (24 hour protection/5 officers)
2010-2011 Sheriff's Department Contract: $157,500 (reduced due lower Sheriff's cost, 24 hour protection/5 officers)
2011-2012 Sheriff's Department Contract was not renewed. Yanceyville gets protection as needed, but does not pay the Sheriff's Department.
According to Town Manager Haynes Brigman, the Town of Yanceyville did not notice an increase in number of police related calls or an increase in the call times for the responding officers. Brigman says the town has not noticed any crime level differences since the Sheriff's Department contract expired.