Tuesday, June 18, 2013
A small town in Sedgwick County is facing the possible demise of its police department. In Bentley, the city council will soon make a decision that likely won't be popular with everyone.
Bentley has been struggling lately to keep officers employed for patrol duties. Now they face getting rid of the police department altogether and shelling out big bucks to the county to cover them.
"We're a small town. We can't afford it, unfortunately," said Bentley business owner Janice Griffith.
In fact, Bentley is small town at its finest. From the children riding their bikes downtown to the residents walking to the post office to get their mail every day. However, most of the time, the police car sits in the city garage unmanned.
"I believe we need more of a police presence than just a general beat that the sheriff can give us if we do dissolve the police department," explained Bentley Mayor Rex Satterthwaite.
Last year, Bentley hired and trained a new police chief only to have him leave for a better paying job in a bigger city. One of the officers left with him, which means Bentley now only has one part-time police officer.
In July, the Bentley city council will decide whether to disband the department altogether and enter into a contract with Sedgwick County to provide sheriff patrols, but that doesn't sit well with everyone, either.
"The county can't cover us when we need it the most," Griffith said. "It would be nice if we had an Andy Griffith... Somebody who would live in town and protect the town, but that would be a hard person to find."
The mayor will give the one remaining police officer a chance to present a plan that would keep the police department in place. the council will vote on July 11.
"Let's give this guy a chance," Satterthwaite said. "He may come up with a plan. I'm going to have the council look at that plan."
Satterthwaite says he wants the town to know that the council doesn't have an agenda of getting rid of the police department. However, they are simply trying to do what makes the most sense for the entire community.