MAYOR

Town to Bartonville Residents: Do You Want to Keep Police?

The future of the Bartonville Police Department could lie in the hands of town residents. They are being asked to take a survey on how much of a police force, if any, they want.

The town mailed out the survey, which is also available online, asking three questions. Do residents think Bartonville should have a police department, how should it be staffed, and what should the town do to keep its rural, country feel.

It's that feel which drew Rick Hopper, whose business sells magnetic eyeglass holders, to the town.  He also supports keeping the police department, and planted a big sign in front of his business to show that support.

"I put this sign up because there's a handful of people in the community that don't think we need a police department, or at least a very limited police department," he said.

Bartonville is a small town, both in size and population. The police department budget makes up about one-third of the overall town budget.

"We agonize over every dollar we spend," said Bill Scherer, Bartonville's Mayor.

The survey spells out cost options for residents, should they decide to grow the department, which Scherer said handles mostly quality of life-type calls and speeding tickets. If they wish to keep the department as-is, taxes would not go up. But Scherer said budgets are tight, noting the town's highway budget also takes up another third of the budget.

"We really want to see what the community wants to do," said Scherer.  "Because there are strong feelings both sides."

Scherer believes the survey is  a transparent way of letting residents tell the town what they want. If residents choose to do away with the police department, Denton County Sheriffs Office would likely provide coverage. Bartonville's police chief, Bobby Dowell, declined comment, waiting to see how the survey turns out.

Hopper knows where he stands.

"Some of us believe that having the presence of a humble little police department goes a long ways in keeping your community safe," he said.

The survey closes Friday. Bartonville officials will release the results at their May 15 meeting.

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