Tuesday, April 30, 2013
A police department won't be returning to a south central Kansas town.
The City of Nickerson held an election Tuesday asking residents if they wanted to reinstate the police department, which was disbanded in October when the town's only officer resigned.
After the numbers were counted, 129 residents wanted to bring the department back, while 181 voted against it.
Law enforcement for the town will continue to be provided by the Reno County Sheriff's Office.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
A south-central Kansas town without a police department is asking its citizens if they want the police force back.
The Nickerson City Council voted in October to disband the town's police department after its chief -- the only full-time officer -- resigned. Law enforcement duties in Nickerson have been assumed by the Reno County Sheriff's Office.
"You don't just walk out to the street and hire a police chief," Mayor Jim Gladden said.
A mail-in advisory ballot, which is being sent Friday to Nickerson's registered voters, will ask citizens if they want the city to hire a police chief as well as another full-time officer.
"We're going to try to do what the people want, but part of that has to do with the money," Gladden said.
The money was part of the reason behind a town hall meeting Thursday evening. City leaders wanted to explain what it will cost to reinstate the police department.
Currently, the city has $118,000 budgeted annually to fund the police department. The city council says it will take $160,000 per year to operate and equip a two-person police force. That will require a property tax increase equal to about $115 per year on a $100,000 home.
It's a price residents say they are willing to pay.
"For safety of families, that's cheap," David Vagts said. "I'm sorry. How do you put a dollar value on a life?"
Safety is the reason Nickerson residents are not happy the city is without a police department.
"We recently had a house fire that took two of our citizens from us," Theresa Teufel said, referring to a March 23 fire that killed George Danser and his 14-year-old daughter Nikolle. "One has to think, if we had somebody patrolling at night, maybe that could've been prevented."
Teufel said she believes the town of nearly 1,100 people is big enough to need a police force of its own, but she would rather the vote require the city council to act.
"If we're going to have a ballot, let's make it have an outcome," she said.
Gladden said the city could not legally put a binding vote on the April ballot and had to send out the advisory ballot instead.
Voters have until noon April 30 to return their ballots to the Reno County Clerk's office.