The small town of Alto, Texas, is working as hard as any in the U.S. to deal with major budget problems brought on by the recession. Difficult times may sometimes call for difficult measures, but the 1,200 residents of the town 130 miles southeast of Dallas fear that the Alto City Council may have gone too far this time. Effective June 16 and lasting for six months, the entire Alto Police Department will be placed on furlough.
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City council members in the east Texas town of Alto don’t want outsiders to think Alto is a brave new world in which crime has suddenly ceased to exist or that citizens are all prepared to take up arms in defense of their homes. It’s simply a matter of money, one that the Alto City Council would much rather have avoided. As it stands, all wages and benefits for Alto’s Police Chief Charles Barron and four police officers will be cut off for half a year on June 16.
Alto Mayor Monty Collins warned that the furloughs will invite crime, but he’s still willing to stand up against injustice.
“There’s probably gonna be more shootings. We’re going to defend our castles, and it’s gonna be a bang,” Collins told KTRE ABC 9.
Alto is in Cherokee County, and the Cherokee County Sheriff department will cover for the furloughed Alto law enforcement officials. The Sheriff’s reserves are already covering for nearby Wells, Texas, an 800-person town that already laid off its only police officer. And the Sheriff has made major budget cuts, too.
Barron was unable to wrap his head around how a city council could jettison such an essential city service.
“It’s a shame. They don’t really understand the potential for the crime activity that’s fixin’ to happen here,” he said.
Barron reportedly is working with the local district attorney to ensure that ongoing investigations won’t unravel. New leads will be handed over to the Cherokee County Sheriff. In order to help the people of Alto prepare for the dark days ahead, he advised that people lock their doors and “pray that things get back to normal soon.”
Associated Press: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7592055.html
KTRE ABC 9: http://www.ktre.com/story/14768941/alto-running-without-police-department-for-six-months
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