BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Batesville hasn't had its own police force since 1981. According to the Arkansas Sheriff's Association, it's the only town of its size in Arkansas that uses county deputies to patrol the area. And now, the city is looking to take charge of their patrolling.
"The city of Batesville has had an inter-local agreement with Independence County for approximately 30 years," says Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh.
But now, Elumbaugh says the city is looking into forming its own police force. He says it all came down to protection.
"We have two officers 24/7 in the city of Batesville. You know we're like everyone else, we want to have good protection in our community, and we always have. We want to continue to have that," says Elumbaugh.
The city is still just scratching the surface on the possibilities. Elumbaugh says the cost will determine if the idea can even move forward. The city currently pays around 1.2 million to the county for services. He thinks the separation could possibly allow the city to hire more deputies.
But, Independence County Sheriff Steve Jeffery says the separation would hurt more than help. "My opinion, it would hurt the county," says Jeffery.
Jeffery says the department currently has around 47 sworn officers, but if the city no longer continues the inter-local agreement it would cut the number of deputies in half.
"Without the amount of deputies that we have, we couldn't have the S.W.A.T team, we couldn't have the domestic violence unit, and we couldn't have the narcotics unit that we have now. That would all go away," says Jeffery.
Mayor Elumbaugh says the city has always had a good working relationship with the Sheriff's Department. Of course, the idea is still in the preliminary stages.
The city has formed a committee to evaluate the cost and plans on discussing it further at the next City Council meeting Tuesday January 11th.