The Kentucky State Police and local sheriff departments are stretching their staffs to cover a shortfall in local law enforcement presence.
The Hopkins County Sheriff and Kentucky State Police will pick up patrols in Earlington following the Mayor's decision to lay off the city's lone police officer. The mayor's move comes as the community struggles with budgetary issues.
Sheriff Frank Latham said his 11 road deputies, and the KSP, will handle calls in the area.
Latham said several small towns in his county, including Nortonville, Hanson and Nebo, have had to trim or completely cut their police departments in recent years.
"We have a mix here of different towns," said Latham. "Some of them have police departments, some of them don't. Some of them have had police departments in the past, now they don't. I think the economic thing is probably putting hardship and a squeeze on them."
But Kentucky State Police Post 2 Public Affairs Officer Stu Recke said the case of county and state agencies having to cover police-less towns is becoming a more and more common sight in rural areas.
“Throughout our post district, we cover seven counties out of Post 2/Madisonville, some of your small communities do have one-man police departments where the chief is the only person that they have," said Recke. "And needless to say that chief can’t work 24/7.”
Recke said state law enforcement agencies are feeling the economic impact and are finding it difficult to police towns without any sort of local law enforcement presence.
“It also depends on our man-power issue too because, needless to say, we’re like everybody else," said Recke. "You talk to anybody in law enforcement and they’ll tell you they’re shorthanded and they could always use more people.”
In August, KSP laid off 20 troopers to accommodate for a nearly $7 million budget shortfall. The cuts come from its R-Class Trooper program, a program that brought troopers into service out of retirement. It was the first time the state agency had had to lay off troopers in its history.