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Glade Spring considers contracting with county for law enforcement protection

Glade Spring Town Council members are considering contracting police operations to the Washington County, Virginia Sheriff's Office. (K. Roberts, WCYB)

GLADE SPRING, Va. - The Town of Glade Spring may contract with the county for police protection. Town council members will hear what residents have to say about it at a public hearing Thursday night.

"It's safety. I live by myself," Glade Spring resident Sandra Taylor said.

Residents like 74-year-old Turner are now wondering who will respond if they have a police emergency.

"It's nice to be able to have police here in town and to be able to call them and know they're going to be there within a matter of minutes," Resident Melynda Lester said.

The town council is considering contracting law enforcement services from the Washington County Sheriff's Office, doing away with the two man town police force.

"The problem that we face here is a lot of turnover among our officers largely because of salary that causes them to go on to other law enforcement agencies, so we spend a lot of money in transition, in turnover, and in training. That's part of what we're trying to adjust for by looking at this," Town Council member Dirk Moore said.

The town's police force of two officers includes the chief.

"Really, the option of leaving things the way it is with one or two officers constantly fluctuating is not viable option for myself or the agency," Chief Ricky Stumbo said. "Honestly, the sheriff's office is providing a lot of resources to us as it is. If there is a homicide investigation, or some type of suicide investigation because of the severity, we call upon Sheriff Newman and his guys anyway to assist us or sometimes take those cases and run themselves."

County Sheriff Fred Newman said he was approached by the town's mayor to consider a contract. The proposed contract would provide a sergeant and deputy for about $125,000 annually.

"We would provide two full-time personnel up there with the opportunity to provide other assistance as needed from our sector patrol personnel," Newman said. "With a two-man department, it's virtually impossible to cover 24/7, 365 days a year. I think last year, we answered about 50 percent of the calls up there when the Chief and his other one officer were off duty."

Some living in Glade Spring are concerned about how long the contract will last and how it will benefit residents.

"It concerns me with the prospect with, say, two years from now if the town decides this isn't working out and we need reinstate our own police department. Now, we've already gotten rid of all of our officers' weapons, their vehicles, their equipment, and you're starting over completely from scratch," Resident Ryan Clark said.

The public hearing will be held at Glade Spring Town Hall at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

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