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Brooksville city council votes to effectively dissolve police department

Posted at 10:33 PM, Mar 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-05 23:33:17-05

The Brooksville City Council voted 4-1 to move forward with negotiations with Hernando County Sheriff's Office to take over law enforcement duties, effectively dissolving the police department.

The vote was Monday night after much speculation it could happen.

Brooksville Police Department disbanding may become a reality

The issue was brought up due to budgetary reasons.

The city's budget is nearly $7 million. Around $2.5 million pays for the police department.

There were concerns about public safety and response times if Hernando County was to take over police work, because of proximity to the city, however the council voted in favor of it. 

"I do see it as a failure in government," said Brooksville resident Jason Sager. 

"We have a response time by the police department of three minutes in this city," said Craig Giera. "With the sheriff's department, it's going to go eight to ten. I'm a retired fire fighter, I know what response time means and I know how important it is."

Council person Natalie Kahler said she is the only council member in support of keeping the police department. 

"I do not want to enter a contract with the sheriff, I’ve seen what it's going to do to our people. There is nothing that would make me vote yes," said Kahler.

Now, the fate of 24 Brooksville Police officers and four staff members is unknown. 

"These guys can't afford to lose their jobs," said Sager. "They've got families, they've got kids and I do not believe that they will be absorbed into the sheriff's department." 

A Brooksville Police captain tells ABC Action News, the sheriff's office has not formally promised to hire any police employee. However, city council members want to see a guarantee of some kind written into the contract. 

City leaders want to see a contract drafted for a county takeover by the end of April.