Walnut Cove to decide fate of police department

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WALNUT COVE, N.C. — With the Stokes County commissioners now on board, the stage is set for the Walnut Cove Board of Commissioners to take final action to determine the fate of its police department.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, town officials have been discussing for several months the possibility of eliminating the town’s police department and contracting with the Stokes County Sheriff’s Office to save funds.

The town sent a revised contract to the Stokes County Board of Commissioners Monday which would do just that, and the county unanimously approved it.

The Walnut Cove Board of Commissioners will consider a motion to authorize the agreement at its final budget meeting, set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Walnut Cove Senior Center.

Town Manager Byron Ellis said the newly revised contract would put the sheriff’s office in charge as of Aug. 1.  Sheriff Mike Marshall requested a later start date than the earlier July 1 proposal since the departments will have to exchange evidence and equipment.

With a later start date, the town would pay the sheriff’s office $128,000 for the first year and $140,000 each of the following years, plus an adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index.

Ellis said he has prepared two budget proposals in advance of the Thursday meeting – one that includes funding for the police department and one that includes the payment to the sheriff’s office.  County Manager Rick Morris said he has already incorporated the payment from the town into his budget.

Walnut Cove Police Chief Chad Williams proposed a $289,000 budget for the coming year, which would include four full-time officers.  If the new contract is authorized by the town Thursday, Marshall said he would hire up to four officers for the sheriff’s office to patrol the town, and he will give consideration to applicants from the town.

Credit: Winston-Salem Journal