Five of the six Stallings Town Council members declared Monday that they would not vote to dissolve the Stallings Police Department.
Council member Wyatt Dunn was absent.
The vote came after council member Barbara Anne Price cited concerns raised by Mayor Lynda Paxton at a July meeting. Price also said Paxton is perceived as “not being pro-police.”
At the July meeting, Paxton cited several situations she had heard about where residents characterized Stallings police officers as being “overly aggressive” on routine traffic stops. On Monday, Stallings Police Chief Larke Plyler gave details of each incident, most from videotapes that Plyler said showed the officers did not step out of line.
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“I am very troubled that the mayor continues to air in public unverified information which could damage the reputation and effectiveness of the Stallings Police Department,” Plyler said.
Paxton said she did not intend for the town to return to contracting officers from the Union County Sheriff's Office, although she has recently voiced concerns over the cost of the department. She also said she has read that several small towns have been forced to dissolve their police departments due to costs.
Paxton has said that if costs for the police department, which has 22 employees, continue to climb the town will be forced to do a “cost-benefit analysis.”
Some council members said the police department employees needed to be reassured their jobs are safe. The council then decided to have Town Manager Brian Matthews issue a press release stating the town council does not support dissolving the police department.
“I think this will help the morale of the police department,” said council member Thelma Privette. “I think a lot of them are nervous.”
Paxton said she has never taken any action to eliminate any positions from the town.
“I've certainly asked for restraint (with the police department budget), but as far as disbanding, I've never proposed that,” she said.