EXCLUSIVE: King councilman explains idea to replace police department

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KING, N.C. -- King Councilman Brian Carico spoke publicly for the first time since making a motion to discuss the idea of having Stokes County deputies take over law enforcement.

Carico brought up the idea at Monday night's council meeting. He said he and other councilmembers were asked by residents about city spending, including the King Police Department.

The department makes up the largest portion of the city's budget.

Stokes County Commissioners haven't even yet met to discuss sending a law enforcement proposal to King. Carico said a proposal would have to provide the same level of service that the King Police Department does but at a lower cost.

"If it is not in line that we can obtain the same level of services with response time and answering service calls at a cheaper cost to the taxpayers--no, we would not look into persusing a contract with the county," Carico said. "No councilmember at any point and time will vote for any form of decrease in service for their protection. One thing that everyone has on common ground is we want public safety at the highest level."

King Police Chief Paula May said she understands council's efforts to save money, but other costs--besides personnel--include legal fees, renegotiating contracts, debts and traffic enforcement.

"I'm confident that when the councils analysis is complete, if all of the factors are examined, they will find the conclusion to support providing police service through the King Police Department," May said.

May believes closing the department will undo the close community ties they have with residents and businesses.

"What we already have invested in the community and those 25 years of relationships, that takes a long time to build," May said.

Carico called "ridiculous" the accusations that this issue is connected with his father, who works for the sheriff's office. He said he and his father have nothing to gain from saving tax money.

Carico, May and other councilmembers said they plan to attend a community-organized meeting Monday at the King Public Library. It will take place from 6-8 p.m.