MORRISTOWN, Minn. (WCCO) — Some members of a small community south of the Twin Cities are demanding action after the City Council voted to eliminate the local police department.
In a close vote, Morristown’s City Council recently approved plans to pay the Rice County Sheriff’s Office to take over policing in the town starting in May.READ MORE: 'It's Amazing': New Minnesota Grant Helps Foster Care Youth Pay For College
One resident, Justin Duncan, was out collecting signatures in the city for a petition to stop that decision on Saturday afternoon.
Duncan, who has been knocking on doors for a week, said he has collected nearly 300 signatures from residents who want to keep the local police department.
The city’s population is close to 1,000 people.
Duncan and supporters of the petition want to keep Morristown Police Department, which has one officer left on staff, and eventually add more positions.
“We are a smaller community and our police officer, our last remaining officer, has been with us for five years,” Duncan said. “He’s part of our family.”
One council member who voted to keep the local police department, Scott Allen, said he believes the decision to have Rice County Sheriff’s Office take over was not in the best interest of Morristown.READ MORE: Wisconsin Man Dies After Car Splits During Crash In Fridley
The group said it has unanswered questions, especially in the long run.
“People want to see numbers, they want to see is this really what it’s going to cost us and how much is this really going to save us,” Allen said.
“We feel that we are losing our identity and the voices of the citizens are not being heard,” Duncan said.
Morristown Mayor Kurt Wolf told WCCO he understands the group has concerns but contracting with the county rather than hiring more local officers will save the city more than $50,000 just in the first year.
Wolf said he is not prepared to raise taxes to fund other options.
“I have to consider all the citizens of Morristown, I can’t just consider a few that have mentioned [concerns] to me,” Wolf said.MORE NEWS: Homicide Investigation Underway After Woman Found Dead Inside St. Paul Home
Duncan plans to deliver the petition to Rice County commissioners on Tuesday to see if the county will delay its end of the decision-making pending a review of different options by the city.