INEZ, Ky. (CBS Local) — “Lock your doors, load your guns and get a biting, barking dog.” That stunning advice came from a county sheriff in Kentucky after he suspended all law enforcement activities, declaring “WE ARE BROKE.”
Martin County Sheriff John Kirk posted a lengthy message Feb. 3 on Facebook explaining the county’s dire financial situation, noting that without divine intervention, “law enforcement as we have known for the last four years will not exist.”
“I will have to move my only other deputy to day shift and that will leave no protection on nights. I’m sure the thieves and drug dealers will have a ball,” Kirk wrote.
Kirk said he also laid off a bookkeeper and will limit office hours to 20 hours a week.
“The law requires the Sheriff to collect taxes, Bailiff court and serve papers,” Kirk continued. “We have always provided police protection but without the funding we can no longer do this.”
In the meantime, Martin County residents will have to rely on Kentucky State Police, which sometimes has just one officer patrolling multiple counties.
Kirk said the department was supposed to receive $75,000 in January, but got nothing because the fiscal court was broke. He also complained that new obligations placed on his office will add $99,000 to his annual expenditures.
A large part of the problem is a sharp decline in coal severance taxes in Eastern Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. Local Government Economic Assistance Fund money to coal-producing counties dropped from $34 million in Fiscal Year 2012 to $6.7 million in Fiscal Year 2018.