TIMPSON, Texas (KTRE) - Citing declining revenue from multiple sources due to COVID-19, the Timpson City Council took the recommendation of Mayor Debra Smith and voted Monday to close the city’s police department. The final day for the last remaining police department employee is Thursday.
“People are scared, and people need hope,” Shelby County resident Laura Carroll said.
Carroll is a paramedic with the City’s Volunteer Ambulance Service. She said her concern is having limited coverage there for safety.
“Our jobs have been so dangerous, and now, it potentially got a little more dangerous,” Carroll said.
In a statement, Timpson Mayor Debra Smith wrote, “Like most of you, I valued having our own police department and felt that it was within our budget each year. Many factors affect a city’s budget, but none have had the impact COVID-19 has.”
Business owner Robin Connell said she moved to Timpson in 1979 when there was no police department and just the county constable and sheriff deputies patrolling.
“I wish that we could still keep it, but I also understand that if the money isn’t there, then the money isn’t there,” Connell said. “You can look around in our town. Our tax base is falling. We need more businesses and more homes built here.”
Mayor Smith said that eliminating the department, estimated about $100,000 per year, alleviates the strain on the general fund budget for the city, with a population just over 1,100 people. She says that fund showed an increase of over 2,200 after the first four months of the fiscal year. During the same period last fiscal year, that fund increase was about $35,000.
“I understand it was a necessary evil,” Carroll said “I just wish more had been done maybe. Maybe some grant money or something.”
“Of course, we hate to see any police department shut down, but we will do the best with what we have.” Shelby County Sheriff Kevin Windham said.
Windham said even with limited resources, his department will provide services for the City of Timpson.
“We have two patrol deputies on duty at a time, day and night,” he said. “We have two that work the day shift and two that work that night shift. Our response time may not be as quick as when they have their officer there, but we will respond to all calls. I’ve been in touch with the mayor and assured her that we are going to respond. We will try to increase the patrol in that area.”
In addition, Windham said there is a constable located in town to assist.
“It’s going to be hard not having a police department, but I’m glad they’re stepping in helping,” Timpson resident Zoie Whitton said.
“It’ll all work out,” Connell said. “It’s not the best scenario but it’s what we have. We’ll work through it and hope better times are ahead.”