Public hearing in King over police abolishment proposal

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KING, N.C. -- A large crowd attended King Elementary School Monday night for the first meeting for the public at large to comment on a proposal to eliminate the King Police Department and use Stokes County deputies for protection.

A few members spoke in favor of cutting the department, but the majority voiced their opposition to the proposal.

"Tonight, we need to get the politics out and do what is right for our citizens of King," said Arlene Austin, resident.

The meeting came a few days after it was determined it would cost $100,000 more for the county to provide law enforcement during its first year. The King police budget is around $1.5 million, while it would cost $1.6 million for deputies to take over coverage during the first year.

King's jurisdiction also includes some of Forsyth County. While Forsyth County officials haven't submitted an estimate, any additional cost obviously would still make it more expensive than the current setup.

That brings up the question--why have Monday's meeting? Several city leaders said they still need to find ways to cut money from the budget, as there are still projected deficits over the next few years.

Some audience members discussed the budget problem as a whole.

"If its an issue of funding and monies, let's start by putting this all on the table, showing and talking about what it is and if and where the cuts could be made," said Lewis McCoy, resident.

"I think the problem with the budget is it's a blank checkbook," said Carolyn Newsom, resident. "I think nobody has managed this checkbook for years. It's gotten bigger and bigger, and it needed to be budgeted."

No decision on the proposal was made at Monday's meeting. City council will meet at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to likely make a final decision on the proposal.

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