By Matt Kroschel
CENTRAL CITY, Colo. (CBS4)– Friday marked the last day officers with one of the oldest police departments in the state would patrol the streets of an historic town that dates back to before Colorado was a state.
CBS4 was the first to report on the problems facing the Central City Police Department in January.
But now the remaining officers on the force are without jobs as the Gilpin County Sheriff’s office takes over patrols in the town.
Central City has always had a history of being boom and bust- it was a mining town in the 1800s, then in the 1990s a casino boom came to town.
But the city has fallen on hard times again, as many of the gambling establishments have closed their doors forcing city managers to make some cuts as they try to survive and reinvent themselves yet again.
“It’s sad cause we really need the local police,” shop owner Sandy Reble told CBS4 Friday. “Bad news for this town because it will take forever for anyone to get up here if something happens.”
She blames years of what she calls “mismanagement” for the current problems.
“This town has always been broke; they just don’t know how to manage it right,” Reble said.
Another local Alan Martin sees this as a pivotal point for Central City. Will Central City be able to boom again?
“One of the things we are trying to do is change so we can bring some of those small businesses back,” Martin says as he points out directions to a guest in the visitor center he works on Main Street.
The city is spending millions to renovate an old theatre next to city hall into a new community center. They also are trying to add a new hotel and parking structure.
But the boom isn’t happening fast enough to save the police force.
Gilpin County Sheriff’s officials say they plan on using the patrol cars currently used by the Central City police force. They plan to have deputies designated to stay in the area to respond to calls.