ARCADIA, Fla. - For more than 100 years, the Arcadia Police Department has been on patrol. But now, budget cuts could close the department for good and put 21 officers out of work.
Wink News spoke with police officers who say this closure could cost citizens their safety, but city officials say it's the only way to cut costs.
"Most difficult decision that a council has made in the history of Arcadia," said City Council Member, Alice Frierson.
Police Marshal Matt Anderson is fighting to keep the Arcadia Police Department from being shut down.
"First thing I thought was, 'My god these guys in the retirement system they are going to lose everything,'" he said.
Last week, City Council Members suggested closing the department, after Anderson requested $1.67 million at a budget meeting.
"I just shut down because I was not expecting that. I was expecting, Matt we need to negotiate this. It's too high of a budget we need to do some trimming. I was dumbfounded. Blindsided," he said.
If the force folds, the Desoto County Sheriff's Office would take over and keep an eye on crime within city limits.
Arcadia Police Officers say this could add about three minutes to response time, critical moments when lives are on the line.
"I think response times will decrease inside of the city and I think a lot of the work will be lost," said resident Dale Croy.
"That's an eternity if someone is breaking into your house," said Lt. Kevin Joens.
Now Chief Anderson says he's trying to find a magic number that would keep his officers employed and keep the city from outsourcing its first responders.
"They never gave me a number. They just said you need to make cuts, you need to find other ways, think outside of the box," he said.
City Council Members and the Arcadia Police Department will meet again on August 13th at 5:30 p.m.