Brooksville Police Department disbanding may become a reality

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — The possibility of Brooksville losing its police department is looking like it could become a reality.

The city of Brooksville has a budget issue. Some residents say they just can’t afford to keep their police department as it currently is, while others warn they can’t afford not to.

RELATED: Brooksville residents rally together to keep the Brooksville Police Department

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

"Many of us looked at cities around the southern United States and we see that police budgets the size of Brooksville are generally to support cities of 30,000 or more," said a Brookville resident at the Brooksville city council meeting on Monday night.

In 2016, the city's population was approximately 7,950 people.

During the meeting, members of the Southern Hills community, who pay high city taxes, say they only want the size of Brooksville's police force, and the amount of tax dollars spent on it, to better reflect its population.

Other Brooksville residents say reducing or eliminating the police department will jeopardize the safety of its citizens.

"Within two minutes they were here," said Brooksville business owner Steve Wyatt in talking about how long it took police to arrive after his printing shop was broken into. 

"Sheriff’s department got here about 13 minutes later," Wyatt said.

Brooksville resident Craig Giera says he was a firefighter for 25 years and is in support of keeping the police department. He says the difference of a three minute response and eight minute response is life altering. 

"They’re going to lose by going with the sheriff’s department in so many ways, time is of the essence." said Giera. 

Council person Natalie Kahler says 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.

On the city council's agenda for March 5 is a vote on whether the city manager should start negotiations for the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office to take over law enforcement for the city.

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