- Associated Press - Saturday, August 15, 2015

MOSBY, Mo. (AP) - A small northwest Missouri town has voted to disband its police department because it cannot afford to pay for an officer, cars and equipment.

Mosby voted earlier this month to drop the police department and instead pay Clay County sheriff’s deputies to respond to calls. The town of about 200 people joins other towns in the county to do that, including Missouri City, Glenaire and Avondale, and the town of Holt will begin using county deputies Sept. 1, The Kansas City Star reported (https://bit.ly/1WeWKhq ).

“It was a financial decision,” said Mosby Mayor Harlin Clements, whose vote broke a 2-2 tie to disband. “Our budget won’t allow us to support the police department.”

Nearby Platte County provides police service for Dearborn and Houston Lake. Deputies are cross-commissioned, which allows them to write municipal citations, Capt. Erik Holland said.

A number of Missouri’s smaller towns contract with county sheriff’s departments, usually because of budget concerns and the challenge of hiring and keeping qualified officers, said Richard Sheets, the deputy director for the Missouri Municipal League.

“Sometimes it works well, and sometimes it doesn’t,” he said.

Officers often use small cities to learn the job and gain experience before moving on to bigger cities that pay more and offer better career opportunities, he said.

The biggest drawback is that small communities sometimes end up with officers who can’t get hired anywhere else, he said. Another obstacle is that county deputies sometimes don’t patrol in rural areas as often as town leaders would like, Sheets said.

Mosby had been designating $142,000 of its $280,000 operating budget for its one full-time police officer and equipment. City officials considered several options before choosing to disband the department.

“We spent quite a bit of money in the last fiscal year on police cars, repairs, uniforms, and it just got out of hand,” Clements said. “We just can’t support the department any longer.”

Some of the savings will be used for city maintenance and needed repairs to City Hall and other municipal buildings, Clements said.

Using Clay County deputies will help the town of Holt have officers with more experience and better training and equipment, Mayor Ross Poile said.

“With an in-house department, we essentially relied on police officers who were either just out of school or with very little experience,” Poile said. “There was never really a question, as far as I was concerned, because when you can get a much superior service at a lower cost, that is clearly in the city’s best interest.”

Holt, which has about 450 residents, expects to save $15,000 to $25,000. The savings will be used to repair roads.


Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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