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Mocksville eyes closing police dept.; contracting with sheriff

By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Mocksville Town Board members are expected to vote Tuesday on whether to do away with the town police department and contract for law enforcement services with the Davie County Sheriff’s Office.

The change would become effective on July 1.

Public comments on the proposal will be taken by phone only because of a restriction in the number of people allowed in town hall, where the meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Contact Emily Quance to register at 336-753-6700 or equance@mocksvillenc.gov by noon on May 4. Comments will be limited to three minutes each.

The $1.35 million annual fee would save the town $1.3 million over three years, while providing 75 percent more officers on patrol, said a news release issued by Interim Town Manager Lynn Trivette. Vehicles and police equipment would be transferred to the sheriff’s office, while the physical police department and office equipment would mostly remain with the town.

According to the news release, the move “uses resources more effectively and efficiently through data driven smart policing.” It would eliminate duplication of services in investigations, management and support services.

“Sheriff’s deputies already work in Mocksville. The proposed contract will provide on average three and one half deputies on patrol around the clock in the town.” Mocksville now averages 2 on patrol.

“The net result is that the town will have more law enforcement officers on patrol than the MPD now provides for less money.”

The release cited as reasons for the proposal: skyrocketing costs, shrinking fund balance and an inefficient policing model.

The town is expecting a $260,000 loss in hold harmless tax revenues this next fiscal year, which starts on July 1, and an increase of $347,000 in landfill and recycle fees.

“The resulting $607,000 in ongoing liabilities were a major impetus to seek a creative long-term solution that enhances community safety while generating significant savings for future community investments without resorting to a tax increase.

The town’s fund balance is also not sustainable with the current trend, the release said.

A meeting had been scheduled to inform police officers and employees of the decision today (Friday), but news of the plan was leaked before that time. Mocksville Police interim agency head Robert Bennett told the board in a closed session earlier this week he was quitting because of the consideration. Ranking officer, interim Capt. B.J. Nichols, is now the head of the department.

This means that all positions at the police department will be eliminated as of June 30. The release said that Sheriff J.D. Hartman has agreed to consider all qualified Mocksville police employees who meet sheriff’s department standards for vacant sheriff’s positions.

The plan will have to be approved by the town board, and by the county’s board of commissioners.

“Mayor Will Marklin and the town board understand how important this decision will be to the future of our community,” the release said.

If approved, the town would have little say in police coverage (other than what is in the contract) as the sheriff would not be required to report to the town board or the town manager.