Maxton will go ahead with its plans to cut two police officer positions.
The town board voted 3-2 Tuesday night to stand by its earlier decision to make the cuts as its deals with a budget shortfall.
Maxton Town Mayor Sallie McLean said shortly after taking office that the town would “have some hard decisions to make.”
But Police Chief Damon Williams said Tuesday that the reduction in his department could make things difficult going forward.
“The schedule we have already is one of the most inventive things we’ve ever done,” said Williams, referring to the complex patrol schedule that the police of Maxton now employ.
The current patrol schedule calls for the chief as well as his captain and lieutenant to “cover the gaps” caused by the force’s dwindling numbers.
Down from 14 in 2011, the Maxton Police Department currently has 11 police officers on staff, including Williams. Tuesday’s cut by the board will take that number down to nine.
“I did hold out some hope until tonight that we could come to a separate compromise,” said Williams.
“Now that we know this is the final action we will have to sit down and work on a new schedule … (as) this will put us at even more of a disadvantage.
“It’s going to be difficult.”
Williams remains optimistic, despite the cutbacks, and said that he will continue to pursue alternatives to town funding.
“This will not deter me. I’m going to continue to pursue grants and even crime prevention programs, and try to enhance from within.”
Asked what Maxton residents may notice, Williams said that they may “miss some faces they are used to seeing,” but stressed that the department “will do what it must to continue to protect its residents and business owners.”
Locals looking to help take up the slack are encouraged by Williams to be the “eyes and ears” of the police department by “reporting things that they see.”
“It makes our job a lot easier considering Maxton’s high call volume,” commented Williams.
The difficult decision about who will actually be laid off has not yet been made, according to Williams.
The vote was split the way several controversial votes have been in recent months – with the two holdovers from the previous board, commissioners James McDougald and Victor Womack voting against the majority.
Voting was identical at special meeting April 5, when the board first elected to make the cuts.
“With the high-call volume, and officers already operating on furlough, these positions shouldn’t be eliminated,” said McDougald.