City vs county policing

Alexis Barker, News Edtior

Following a mixed response to his original proposal that the Newcastle City Council consider dissolving the Newcastle Police Department to move to Weston County Sheriff’s Department-led policing, Councilman Tyrel Owens again asked on Oct. 2 that the city schedule a town hall to discuss the topic. 


After a brief discussion by the council, it was determined that the meeting will take place. It has been scheduled for Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. at the Weston County Senior Center, nearly two months after Owens first proposed that the city discuss dissolving its police department on Sept. 5, citing officer shortages, crumbling city infrastructure and a hefty police budget.


“I have been getting more and more pressure from my constituents about whether we continue to operate a police department,” Owens said then. 


Given the “amount of pressure” he has received, Owens said he believed the council should hold a public hearing to discuss the topic with members of the community. He noted that if the public is against the idea, then the point is moot. 


He said some of the concerns constituents have raised were the cost of the police department and the lack of a workforce. 


“We operate the police department at a $1.5 million budget, and they (certain constituents) think that money might be better spent if we go to county policing and don’t have such a large line item for our budget,” Owens said.


According to Councilman Daren Downs, city citations brought in $23,600 in the last fiscal year. He noted that this is not even enough money to pay one officer’s wages. 


On Oct. 2, Owens noted that since he first made the suggestion, he has heard from constituents on both sides of the discussion, while Mayor Pam Gualtieri said she is against dissolution and has had several constituents tell her it is a very bad idea. 


Owens stressed that an open discussion with the public is needed because “everybody has seen the issues with the department as it is.” 


After the discussion, the council directed Clerk-Treasurer Stacy Haggerty to find a location for the meeting and schedule it. Anyone wishing to discuss the topic of city policing versus county policing is encouraged to attend the meeting on Oct. 30.

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