EATONVILLE, Wash. - The mayor’s plan to eliminate Eatonville’s Police Department because of a financial crisis caused an outcry from the community at a City Council meeting Monday.
The standing-room-only crowd heard their mayor say he has no choice but to eliminate the entire Eatonville Police Department to save the budget and ask the Pierce County Sheriff's Department protect the town instead.
Most neighbors loudly objected to the plan.
“You know how long it takes the cop (to get to) Eatonville? When there’s not a cop in town other than eight hours a day? You guys are going to be waiting forever! Criminals are going to know this town is wide open,” said resident David Smith.
Others at the meeting seemed ready to fight to keep the officers in town.
“Mark my words, (if) anything ever happens to this damn community you better keep your eyes open! Because I’ll be coming and knocking at your damn door. I served overseas and I’ll serve here to protect my people, too. You take away these (officers) and there’s going to be bloodshed,” said neighbor Buck Adams.
Eatonville police officers also spoke to the City Council.
“I wanted to do my 30 years up here and retire. Ain’t going to happen. Simple fact,” said Eatonville police officer Jason McGuire.
The Eatonville Chief of Police said people have every right to be angry.
“I feel bad for them. Why? Well, I wouldn’t want to live out here. Do you feel it will be less safe (using Pierce County officers)? I think so. I think the county is overworked and understaffed,” said Chief Kevin Wade.
“All of these people are here. The majority of them want us to keep our police department, and at the next election, we just might have a new council,” said resident Bobbi Anderson.
But Eatonville's mayor said the city can't afford to pay their six officers anymore and he doesn't know where else to cut.
“My whole intent was to make the town better. And does this make the town better? Financially, it does. Otherwise, I’m not sure,” said Mayor Ray Harper.
If Pierce County takes over policing in the city, response times would be longer and 911 calls would cost taxpayers $155 per call.
The council may vote to stop funding police in the next few weeks.