Missouri town in debt may disband police

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BEL-RIDGE, Mo. (KTVI) – Bel-Ridge, Missouri, is drowning in debt and facing serious decisions concerning budget cuts, including disbanding its own police force.

On Tuesday night, an auditor reminded city officials the town has spent more than they have — to the tune of $275,000.

“We gotta head this city in the right direction or the state will come take over, so we gotta save our city,” Bel-Ridge Mayor Willie Fair said.

The mayor and another alderman said everything is on the chopping block to save money, including the police department.

“We’re going to do what we have to do for the city to survive,” Fair said.

They are considering paying other area police departments to protect their community.

“It’s all finances, as you can see from the accountant’s report and the state auditor’s report,” alderman Glen Tobe said.

Citizen and former alderman Mike Ruff said the community won’t be safe if they cut the local police department. Many, like Ruff, want officers on-duty who know them and their families.

“These police officers, they intermingle with our young people, and we don’t feel we’re going to get that,” Ruff said.

Citizens of Bel-Ridge have requested a town hall meeting to discuss the issue. City officials say they will hold off on making any big changes until creating a proposal to further discuss.

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