KATC is Getting Answers about operations at the Baldwin Police Department.
Some in Baldwin have been calling and emailing us asking why dispatchers don’t answer when they call the police station and some even say the police chief is nowhere to be found.
Chief Harry Smith denies any claims that his officers are not working. He says the department is doing the best they can with the resources they’re given.
“When I had a budget decrease, I had to let some officers go,” Smith said. “The crew I have now is in the community.”
Smith said he has four full-time officers, one part-time dispatcher and ten to fifteen reserve officers.
“The officers take on a lot, my one dispatcher takes on a lot, I take on a lot,” Smith said. “Whenever there is an officer out sick or on vacation, I come in and cover to make sure the citizens are protected.”
This year’s budget is roughly $250,000. In 2016, it was nearly $500,000.
Part-time officer Clarence Clark says despite the budget, his fellow officers are committed to the Chief and the community.
“You have officers out here risking their lives for $9.66,” Clark said. “People are complaining, but officers are doing their jobs with what they have.”
Clark said the department has two functional units and they need major repairs.
“So what are we supposed to do as officers here in Baldwin when you’re not providing us with the means to provide to the community,” said Clark.
Chief Smith said Baldwin has one officer patrolling during the day and one patrolling at night. The department’s dispatcher only works until 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
“I rely on them pretty regularly because they do come in and assist,” said Smith.
Sheriff Blaise Smith hopes his office won’t have to take over patrols in the town.
“You have to consider cost. Not only what it would cost us, but what it would cost them to have us do it,” Sheriff Smith said. “I know that it would be a burden on us if we had to take over because we would have to increase our manpower.”
Chief Harry Smith says no matter how limited his resources are, he’ll continue working with the town to ensure Baldwin stays safe.