Smithville budget cuts forces police department to shutdown
SMITHVILLE, GA -
Budget cuts in Smithville have taken a toll on the city's police department, leaving residents without one.
At Thursday's council meeting, the Smithville City Council decided to lay off all 4 officers, including Sammy Stone.
"Only thing basically was we weren't making any money. They said the city was broke. That's the information I got," said Sammy Stone.
Stone's last day on the job was Wednesday. He says he didn't attend the meeting because it was too hurtful.
"Knowing what was going to happen because I was told through the grapevine, that they were going to shut us down Thursday night instead of July 1. It was kind of a bittersweet thing. I wanted to go, but the emotions part of me just wouldn't let me go because it hurt to lose something you had for 15 years," said Sammy Stone.
Smithville's Mayor, Jerry Myrick said in May, that budget cuts caused the city to cutback some employees starting with the police department.
Not all citizens think that shutting down the police department was the right thing to do. Alice Johnson is concerned for her safety.
"I got to wait, I'm going to have to wait for one to come if I need one. Which I hope I don't. And that's not fair to me and I pay taxes. Plus I been here 42 years," said Alice Johnson.
But Smithville won't be without police protection. The Lee County Sheriff's Office will take over and residents say they've already seen them patrol the city.
"I've had some real good success with the Sheriff Department and I feel the Sheriff is going to give them what he got. As much as he can with what he have. I think he's going to make sure things are going to be taken care of here in Smithville," said Sammy Stone.
Smithville residents hope that the city can get things back on track and hire back the police officers in the future.
The Smithville Mayor says the city was originally planning on keeping the chief, but the city decided to do away with the entire department. The mayor says more cuts in the city are expected.