Eclectic residents fear losing local police department

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

ECLECTIC, AL (WSFA) - According to Marlo Wilkes, the future of Eclectic's police force has been "the talk of the town."

She owns a restaurant downtown and knows how important a police presence can be.

"I think the police here creates a better environment, a safer environment. You don't have to worry."

But lately, that's all some residents have been doing after hearing the mayor met with city council members and suggested shutting down the police department.

"It floored me," said City Council member, Helen Rowe.

She says the Mayor mentioned combining Eclectic's 911 dispatch center with Elmore County's before, but never doing away with the police department altogether.

"I said, 'well I do think we need to have a town meeting and let everybody know about this. This can't be something that's going to happen right off,'" adds Rowe.

Mayor Gary Wright admits, "it is possible that we may do away with Eclectic Police Department."

But, he says nothing has been decided.

He believes creating a metro police force by pooling resources from neighboring communities would help save money.

"They combine all their assets into one operation and they'll have satellite offices," adds Wright.

But residents are happy with the progress here.

"In the last six years we've had the best police force that this town has ever had," says Eclectic resident, Jimmy K. Lanier.

Some fear losing it would hurt their community.

"I think you open the door for other things to happen," adds Wilkes.

The police department employs roughly 10 people. Mayor Wright says if it did close, the Elmore County sheriff told him they would absorb the workers so they wouldn't lose their jobs. The Mayor is planning a public hearing within the next few weeks to discuss the options.

© Copyright 2010 WSFA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.