03/29/11 — Pikeville considers dropping police

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Pikeville considers dropping police

By Gary Popp
Published in News on March 29, 2011 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Pikeville residents and town officials have started discussions about the possibility of disbanding the town's police department and contracting with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office for protection.

An open meeting at the Pikeville Community Center on Monday allowed Mayor Johnny Weaver, Pikeville town commissioners and community residents the chance to ask questions from a group of Wayne County officials that included Sheriff Carey Winders, County Manager Lee Smith and Joe Gurley, the county emergency services director.

"We are just trying to gather information. This is a fact-finding mission, and that is all it is," Weaver said as the meeting opened.

Almost 100 percent of Pikeville's property tax revenue is used to fund its police department. Weaver said it is time the town looks at other options.

Weaver said Pikeville is trying to determine if the Sheriff's Office can provide the necessary law enforcement for less than the $180,000 per year the police department currently costs.

"We are trying to ask questions and do it in front of the public," Weaver said. "We are asking the sheriff's department if there is a way they can help us."

He said a decision should be reached within the next 60 days.

A survey among the Pikeville residents was conducted in December, which indicated that most want the police department to remain intact.

Winders suggested the people of Pikeville move cautiously and weigh all their options before making a decision.

The sheriff suggested that town officials look at other small towns in nearby counties that have contracted out their law enforcement to their sheriff's offices and find out if they are satisfied with the results.

Winders added that there are many services that the Sheriff's Office already provides to Pikeville and to other Wayne County towns, such as investigation services, evidence handling and the serving of civil papers.

Town officials said a committee will be formed to continue to gather information and to allow a better comparison of the options faced by the people of Pikeville.

"It is up to the town to decide," Weaver said.