Alto running without police department for six months

Alto mayor, Marty Collins, abstained from the vote to furlough the police department
Alto mayor, Marty Collins, abstained from the vote to furlough the police department
Police Chief Charles Barron worries about residents.
Police Chief Charles Barron worries about residents.

ALTO, TX (KTRE) - An entire police force is packing their bags.

An Alto City Council decision to cut the police force leaves just two weeks for the department to tie up loose ends and plan for their futures.

With an already over-burned county sheriff's department, the community fears the worst.

According to Alto's mayor Monty Collins, the council believes removing the chief and four officers from the city's pay roll is the best measure to save the city money.

Council members voted to furlough the city's entire police force, all five of them, hoping to save the city money.

"There's probably gonna be more shootings. We're going to defend our castles and it's gonna be a bang," said Collins.

Alto Police Chief Charles Barron is a little less direct.

"It's a shame. They don't really understand the potential for the crime activity that's fixin' to happen here," he said.

"They won't feel safe, that's the problem. They'll feel in jeopardy all the time," said Frances Miles, a community member.

"They're just throwin' the town wide open to crime," said another resident, Timothy McDonald.

Despite the community's outcries, Alto police just have two weeks to tie up loose ends.

"I've told them to start wrapping up the cases; start making preparations to bring in all their equipment," said Barron.

The chief says any new leads will be handed over to the county's sheriff's investigators who will handle pending cases.

But it's no secret, the sheriff's department already has their hands full. Folks fear how long it will take deputies to respond when they call 911.

"They're stretched way too thin to take care of way too many problems," said Miles.

It gets worse. Chief Barron says he just got news that every county department - including the sheriff - has to cut at least 5%.

His responsibilities are expanding, but his department and his budget are not.

Barron has a message for  the town: Stay safe, lock your doors and pray that things get back to normal soon.

Collins said  that he abstained from the vote, but told council members he believes this is a mistake.

Starting on June 16, police will have to stop working and won't receive benefits.

Barron says he's already heard from the county and district attorney who are concerned about getting evidence for cases they're prosecuting.

He's assured them they have his home phone number and he will make sure they get what they need.

Copyright 2011 KTRE. All Rights Reserved.