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Kiowa cuts entire police force, citing lack of resources

The small town in Elbert County had one full-time officer, a part-time officer and a reserve officer.

KIOWA, Colo. — There are no longer any police officers on patrol in the town of Kiowa in Elbert County, according to the town administrator.

The services were suspended on Friday, March 29, in response to concerns with the level of service that was being provided by the department, said Joe Racine, the interim town administrator.

Racine also cited a lack of revenue necessary to support an adequate in-house department. 

"That department was over half of the town's general fund," Racine said. "The town has other needs. Just maintaining streets, getting potholes filled and cracks sealed and so on."

The mayor and the administrator met personally with the acting chief on Friday to discuss the issue and advise him of the decision, Racine said. 

"We thought we were fair with everybody and right up front with them, but it was what needed to be done," he said. "There's no easy way to do difficult things."

Kevin Pope, Kiowa's former police chief, still said he was surprised and is disappointed by the decision. 

"I hope the police department comes back," Pope said. "I have lots of friends there. I have lots of acquaintances. I have people I talk to on a daily basis. I have elderly people I check on and those are the folks I worry about."

The department was staffed by one full-time officer, Pope,  who served as the acting chief, one part-time officer and one reserve officer. 

The Elbert County Sheriff’s Office will provide interim emergency coverage while the town and the county negotiate an agreement for law enforcement services. An agreement with the sheriff will be considered by the town’s board of trustees and by the county in public meetings that have not yet been scheduled.

Utilizing the sheriff's office to provide safety services will enable the town to provide services that are within the town's financial limits, Racine said. The town would also benefit from the depth of experience from the larger department.

"It's a common model," he said. "There are towns all over the state that contract with the sheriff for law enforcement."

Residents who have questions or concerns regarding the change are encouraged to contact the town hall or attend a board meeting. They meet on the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m.

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