I need backup!

The Smithville Police Department remains locked, after City Council members phased out the entire force. / Matt Prichard

The small town of Smithville, Georgia, has locked the doors and shut off the sirens. Phasing out their entire police department.

"I don't have an qualms at all with it. I think with the city budget like it is, that's the best thing. I think we've done the right thing closing the police department," said Smithville resident, Don Word.

Over a week ago the Smithville City Council made the decision in hopes of balancing the budget, and much like Don Word, other residents aren't overly concerned.

"We've had a lot of patrolling by the deputy sheriffs, in fact we've seen one since you've been here....I don't have a lot of concerns, we're a quiet little town," said 79-year Smithville resident, Jack Smith.

But be that as it may this decision causes a ripple effect. All law enforcement responsibilities now move to the Lee County Sheriff's Office. Draining tax dollars out of an already pinched budget.

"Definitely going to have a strain on the budget, because of man power. You know investigations, patrol, and doing work that we're not used to having to do," said Lee County Sheriff, Reggie Rachals.

And as economic times continue to strain county governments, officials say they can't justify taxing citizens any more cash.

"It's this board's belief that we have taxed the people of Lee County enough and that we should make do with the monies, and the revenues that are currently being generated," said Lee County Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Rick Muggridge.

So the question is, where will the man power and extra resources come from?

"we're going to do the best we can do with what we've got, and do the same as we do with the rest of the county," said Sheriff Rachals.

Despite that strain on Sheriff Rachals resources, he says he's confident his staff can handle the extra work, and those living in Smithville should rest assured.

"Not to the extent of being scared to go out your door, or be scared to do what you got to do normally. because I'm going to have an officer going through there as often as I can," said Sheriff Rachals.

Whispers inside Smithville suggest that the department may return one day, but for now the padlock is the only one to greet you at the police headquarters.

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