POLK CITY, Iowa -- Rumors of the Polk City Police Department being contracted out to the Polk County Sheriffs Office are spreading in the town of 4,500 like wildfire and it contributed to a capacity crowd at Monday's city council meeting.
"Let's just say there hasn't been this many people here in a long time," said Polk City Mayor Jason Morse. On Friday, as Polk City passed the torch between former police chief Mark Bowersox and new interim chief Roger Sanders, city leaders thought they`d also form a committee to examine the current structure of the police department as a whole. With one of several preliminary options being to contract out police services for the future of the $670,000, five employee operation.
Mayor Morse said, "The other option is to keep things the way they are. Do we add additional staff or go with Polk County. All of these are in the infancy." While it may seem subtle to city leaders, "This is no different than what we've done in the past 15-20 years. It's just that this time it's made it into the public eye," said Morse.
It has sparked outrage among those who live within the community. Polk City resident Nick Miller said, "People are concerned about their safety. That is a major concern in a city or town that the government must address."
A "Save the Polk City Police Department" Facebook page has also gathered nearly 800 names in strong support to keep the police department. "The advantages of having your own police department is the buy-in to the community that you get from the officers that come from the community, that know the community and that are respected in the community," said Chief Sanders. "Clearly they are passionate about the community and they are obviously passionate about the small town feel that we`ve got and the police department and public safety as a whole and what each department brings as a whole," said Mayor Morse.
Community support that makes interim Polk City Police Chief Sanders confident in his departments future. "As far as I know, there is no plan in place to get rid of the police department. If you think about it, why would they hire me?"
Community members are also encouraging others to install blue light bulbs on their porches in support of the Polk City Police Department. There is no set date on whether the city will make a decision to contract their services out to Polk County.