City of Lorenzo without police force - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

City of Lorenzo without police force

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

For nearly a month, the City of Lorenzo has been without a police department after their two officers resigned to take new jobs. Now other law enforcement agencies are helping to pick up the slack while the City tries to figure out what's next.

Lorenzo City Manager Rusty Forbes says their Chief of Police resigned back in December to take a job with the Crosby County Sheriff's Department, while the other officer resigned on January 11th to move to Garza County.

One of the main concerns from citizens is the response time to emergencies without a local police force presence. Ralls has 2 police officers who have been helping respond to calls, but they're at least 8 miles away. Crosby County Sheriff Deputies have also been patrolling the City of Lorenzo and are on standby to help out.

"Actually, we've had a pretty good presence from our County Department in Lorenzo right now," Forbes said. "I want to reassure them at this point the Sheriff is covering the city very well in my opinion."

Forbes says the main problem is the town's dwindling population and the struggle to keep police officers wanting to stay in small towns where their salaries are much lower.  "Small towns kind of seem to be the stepping stone," Forbes said. "Right now our council is looking at whether we're going to hire another Chief of Police or contract out with the county."

Crosby County Sheriff Ethan Villanueva says small towns eliminating their police departments and contracting with the county is a growing trend because the difficulty of keeping a steady police force in small towns.

"A lot of new officers get their first jobs in small town departments, and usually they're there just for a year or two. Then they're ready to move on to bigger and better things," Sheriff Villanueva said. "These small towns like Ralls and Lorenzo are constantly looking for new officers or police chiefs."

Villanueva says if Lorenzo decided to contract its law enforcement to Crosby County, the city would pay for a new deputy to be hired. That deputy would live in and cover the town of Lorenzo.

Forbes says this option is economical because it would actually save the city money, and still provide just as much protection for the citizens.

Lorenzo City Council will consider their options at the city council meeting Monday night at 7:30p.m. If they decide to make a contract with the county, Crosby County Commissioners would also have to approve it.

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