Bessemer City council members were divided Monday night in Gaston County over whether to form its own police department, separate from the county. Mayor Becky Smith broke the tie on Monday night by voting in favor of a local police department.
The county police department fees to serve Bessemer City were scheduled to triple. The city currently pays the county $435,000 per year for the police protection and was expected to cost $1.1 million by 2018. City Councilman Dan Boling says it all came down to money.
"I can understand the county having to go up, 'cause they got such a big department and it takes more to operate and more to do," Boling says. "And we just got to take care of our citizens and our community and that's the way I look at it."
City Manager James Inman researched the costs and found that the local police department could save more than $300,000 a year by making this move. The city's police department is expected to start functioning in July. Boling says officers who patrolled the city are welcome to apply for positions with the new police force. Gaston County Police has served Bessemer City since 1998.