Sunday, May 2, 2004

Versailles police merger takes effect

The Associated Press

VERSAILLES - A city-county police merger took effect Saturday in Woodford County, and other police forces in the state are watching how it works.

Versailles police officers now will patrol, enforce the law and investigate crimes and accidents in Midway and in rural areas of the central Kentucky county.

By eliminating duplication, the merger is supposed to save taxpayers $700,000 over the next three fiscal years. Skeptics doubt that any savings will result, but Woodford County Judge-Executive Joe Gormley stands by that estimate.

The Woodford County Police Department, which had handled rural patrols and criminal and accident investigations in rural parts of the county since 1973, officially ceased to exist once the merger took effect. The Woodford County sheriff's department will continue to collect taxes, serve court papers, transport prisoners and provide court bailiffs.

The Versailles department has automatically employed 15 county officers, excluding County Chief Loren "Squirrel" Carl, as prescribed by a city-county "interlocal agreement" adopted by the Versailles City Council and Woodford County Fiscal Court. The city had 21 sworn officers before the merger; it now has 36.

According to the interlocal agreement, the county would pay the city $3.1 million over 3 years for countywide police services.

Midway City Council approved a separate interlocal agreement in which that city would pay $30,000 a year to Versailles. That agreement specifies that an officer would be dedicated to the Midway city limits for at least eight hours a day.

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Versailles police merger takes effect