Kiowa Board of Trustees members discussed reopening the town’s suspended police department at the board’s Feb. 9 meeting. The department was suspended in May of 2019 because of lack of revenue …
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Kiowa Board of Trustees members discussed reopening the town’s suspended police department at the board’s Feb. 9 meeting. The department was suspended in May of 2019 because of lack of revenue necessary to support an in-house department. The move was widely publicized in the media at the time, after rumors surfaced that town officials announced the closing of the department via text message. Interim Town Administrator Joe Racine stated at the time that those charges were “bogus,” adding that he had personally contacted the police chief about the need to suspend the department.
Now, according to Town Administrator Maria Morales, the town has reorganized some funds within the budget, and is reaching out to other police departments to try to assess how much it would cost to get the Kiowa department up and running again.
“We’re not in a financial deficit anymore,” said Morales. “We’re discussing with other police departments, and we’re looking at prices and how much it will cost. It’s imperative for the town to have a police department. It’s been more than a year and a half since we’ve had one, and in that time the Elbert County Sheriff’s Department has been responding to 911 calls in the town.”
Before suspending the department last year, the town was working with a $211,000 police budget, which paid for a chief, a part-time officer and one volunteer officer. Morales said the new department would be started with one officer and increase the number of officers going forward.
“We don’t know when we’ll get a department again. We’re still doing the research, and want to make sure we take all the right steps this time,” said Morales. “We would start with one officer, but that’s better than what we have right now.”
Morales said the town would need to purchase all new equipment for the department, including a police car, since the equipment they have is outdated.
“Since we have moved some funds around, we have reprioritized what’s important and what the town needs. It’s become needs versus wants,” said Morales. “I think in doing so, the town has freed up some money that was being spent elsewhere, stuff that was nice to have but not necessary.”
The town is discussing holding some town hall meetings to hear input from residents regarding the reopening of a Kiowa police department.
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