UPDATE: News 12 at 6 o' clock/ July 18, 2014
WASHINGTON, Ga.--As of 5:00 Friday, a small Georgia town no longer has a police force. Washington's City Council made that decision Thursday night, with the vote falling along racial lines. Mayor Ames Barnett cast the tie-breaking vote, giving Police Chief Theodosia Glenn and her 13 officers less than 24 hours to pack up their belongings.
Glenn says, "I'm shocked. I guess shocked is the word."
Glenn says she's mostly shocked at the short notice. She expected at least 2 weeks notice to get things in order.
"For them just to give us one day to pack up our stuff and leave, it's just not right," she says.
They've run into several problems already, like what to do with weapons and evidence. Not to mention all of their open cases. Some scheduled to head to court as early as next week.
"We already have cases scheduled out until August or September, so for them to just say July 18 at 5 o'clock is your last day, it was not well thought out," Glenn explains.
The city is now Wilke's County Sheriff Mark Moore's responsibility. He took over control when he got the call last night.
" I called dispatch, and I advised them to route all the calls in the city to the sheriff's deputies," he says.
He put 3 extra deputies on the clock to patrol the added territory. Thursday night, his men responded to 18 calls. 12 of those calls were in the city limits.
Glenn says that amount of calls is normal. She says, "In a month's time, it is nothing for us to have 900 calls."
She's worried the the Sheriff's Office won't have the resources to take on the added load with only 15 full time deputies.
"They're two totally separate entities. They do two different things, and that is my real concern, whether the Sheriff's Office can keep up with the calls," she says.
Sheriff Moore says Wilkes County will take care of all the open cases in Washington. The district attorney is helping them decide how to handle all of the evidence.
They still have to hash out how much the city will pay the county to take over operations. The motion approved by council said the cost would not be more than $400,000 a year. When they hash all of that out, the Sheriff will know how many new deputies he can hire, hopefully, giving some of the city police officers a chance to get a new job.
News 12 at 11 O'Clock / Thursday, July 17, 2014
Washington, Ga. (WRDW) -- Washington's top cop and 14 of her officers are now out of a job. Thursday city leaders decided the Wilkes County Sheriff can keep the city safe and save money at the same time. Mayor Barnett's tie-breaking vote will force the department to close its doors tomorrow.
A day that started with a hopeful march outside ends with disappointment for some inside Washington's City Council meeting.
"I move that all money in the current budget for the police department be reduced to zero July 18th, 2014 at 5pm," Council member Mike Scarborough said.
The council vote came down to a three to three tie, with black members supporting the department and the white ones wanting to get rid of it. Washington's Mayor broke the tie.
"The police department motion by councilman Scarborough passes 4 to 3," Mayor Ames Barnett announced to the crowd.
Before the vote, person after person spoke in support of the police department, even someone who's been put in cuffs by them.
"I've been arrested I don't know how many times in this city and in this county by my own cousin who is the chief of police," one supporter told the council.
The three council members supporting the department suggested cutting other city departments, reducing staffing at the PD, and even questioned the legality of how the vote went down. A stunning development for Police Chief Theodosia Glenn.
"Yes, I'm very shocked," Glenn told News 12 after the meeting.
The chief says shutting her department down with less than 24 hours notice will hurt her and her 14 officers.
"I just had one officer come in tears saying that she worked hard for career and now it's up in smoke," she said.
However, supporters of the Washington PD say the fight is not over.
"I will prepare with a group out of Atlanta to bring federal litigation and we are also going to partner with the SCLC to ask for an economic boycott of Washington," a supporter told the Mayor during the meeting.
The mayor says Thursday's vote will save at least $100,000 a year and there are no guaranteed jobs for city cop's at the county sheriff's office.