Piedmont considers getting rid of police officers

Piedmont considers getting rid of police officers in favor of sheriff's deputies

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PIEDMONT -

The City of Piedmont is considering shutting down their city police department and using the Sheriff's office instead. The Canadian County Sheriff presented his proposal this week to city council.

The plan was brought up in executive session Monday night. Piedmont Police Chief Alex Oblein says he didn't even know about it, and now his department is under a lot of stress.

"I was disappointed because that's something you think I should know about, and I didn't like being kept in the dark about it." said Chief Oblein.

Chief Oblein was blind sided this week when he found out the city asked the Canadian County Sheriff to come up with a plan to take over city law enforcement.

"It's been a terrible blow to morale, and whether or not it goes through or not, it's hurt the morale of the department," said Chief Oblein.

City Manager Jim Crosby says the idea was proposed to a city council member as a way to save money and use it to improve roads.

Right now the police department budget is about $900,000 a year. The Sheriff believes his plan would only be $600,000 with the same number of officers. Crosby says the plan has its positives and negatives, but before it can even be fully discussed the city needs to find out of it's even legal.

It's a plan Piedmont Mayor Valerie Thomerson and members of city council are on board with. However, many who live in Piedmont say no way.

"I don't want to lose my police department," said long time resident Janice Mills. "I love every one of our police officers. They're here for the community."

Sheriff's deputies would occupy the current police department andpiedmontp have access to the full resources of Canadian County. Chief Oblein says the dedication and knowledge his team has is not worth giving up.

"It's more personalized service and you may or may not get that from the Sheriff's department. I just don't know."

The plan still needs to go through legal approval and the public needs to given a chance to weigh in. If it did go through, Piedmont officers could apply for positions at the Sheriff's office.

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