Nickerson The Nickerson City Council voted for a second time to disband the local police department, but it also added a provision that will allow the public to decide in April whether to reinstate the department.
The council's vote on Monday came before about 50 residents, many of whom criticized the council's vote earlier vote to disband the mostly part-time police officers in the Reno County community of about 1,000 residents. Before voting, the council added the provision allowing the public to vote next year.
Until then, the Reno County Sheriff's Department will enforce the law in Nickerson, The Hutchinson News reported.
Sheriff Randy Henderson said deputies respond to calls by priority and if Nickerson had an emergency, deputies would respond as quickly as possible but they might not always be there.
"I'm sorry to say on Friday and Saturday nights we spend a lot of time in Hutchinson," he said.
Nickerson Mayor Jim Gladden said council members decided to disband the small department after the police chief, Michael Kelsey, resigned Oct. 5.
"What were we supposed to do? We didn't have anyone in mind," Gladden said. "We're between a rock and a hard spot."
While some residents said they did not have total confidence in past Nickerson police officers, they said it was important to have some law enforcement available.
"You don't throw the baby out with the bath water," resident Joyce Beam said. "Wouldn't it have made more sense to hire someone?"
After Monday's vote, resident George deNobriga stood up in protest.
"So you're deciding to get rid of something instead of fixing it. That is the easy way out," he said while the crowd applauded.
Gladden said the council would consider raising the mill levy to hire two full-time police officers if residents vote to reinstate the force in April.
"We do intend to have another police force," he said.