By Matt Kroschel
CENTRAL CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – One of Colorado’s longest serving police departments could disband, a move city leaders call a cost-saving measure, but some residents say they are outraged over the proposed plan.
Talks began last year between the Central City Police Department and Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office regarding supplemental law enforcement services by contract.
City leaders told CBS4 those discussions have continued since that time and most recently a viable option was presented and accepted by the city to contract law enforcement services with the Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office. No agreement has been signed yet, howevber.
Daniel Miera, City Manager for the City of Central said, “As a city manager, it is a necessary part of my job to continually monitor and evaluate the efficiencies and effectiveness of all city operations and to explore and identify alternative solutions where adjustments are required. It is commonplace in the public sector that we are challenged with the task of doing more with less. In an environment where fiscal responsibility is at the forefront of any service operation, especially with respect to public funds, it would be irresponsible for the City to ignore an option that could provide increased service levels at a decreased cost to the city. Although this is a prudent and fiscally responsible business decision, it is not without heavy hearts that this decision was made.”
Gilpin County Sheriff Bruce Hartman says his department is looking forward to the new task if it happens.
“The sheriff’s office has a good handle on community policing,” said Hartman. “We are very involved in the community and our School Resource Officer is a one example of that. We look forward to continuing the relationships that Central City Police Department has built with its citizens and will work hard to earn their trust in us.”
“Central City is a big part of Gilpin County since it is the county seat and as such, the sheriff’s office is already invested in the City and its citizens,” said Hartman.
The city and county are currently working on the Ingergovernmental Agreement but it has not been finalized. Daniel Miera stated.
“We will take into consideration a time frame that will provide the greatest amount of notice to all impacted employees; design a seamless and uninterrupted transition; and maintain as much of the City’s identity as possible. Citizens can be assured that the police department will continue fully functioning during this transition time with no lapse in law enforcement services,” Miera said.
Jeffry Willits, a casino manager in Central City, is strongly opposed to the idea of disbanding the second oldest police force in Colorado.
“We’re furious … I heard in rumor on Wednesday. I heard everything confirmed on Friday,” Willits said. “Scared, very scared. We need our police department. Their department is just right here. It is literally one to two blocks away from almost every casino in Central City … so important for response times when we need them.”
He said so far the meetings have been closed to the public and it’s caused a lot of uproar.
“These meetings have been closed doors, none of our city council is aware of it,” Willits said. “It has caused a lot of uproar.”
Central City Police Chief Terry Krelle Monday evening released a statement apologizing for misleading or inaccurate statements that he might made in the last couple of days.
Miera told CBS4 that starting Tuesday they will start holding town hall style meetings at 7 p.m. all week to get as much public input as the can into the plan.