Board of Supervisors to consider opening Franklin County Police Department

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FRANKLIN COUNTY (WSLS 10) - A new police department could open in Franklin County.

The county's board of supervisors is considering the possibility and has requested that county staff do research into the proposal.

It's still early in the process, but supervisor Ronnie Thompson, a retired police officer, said it's needed in the county and would be a positive change.

The move would drastically change the role of the sheriff's department in the county.

Thompson said 25 years of experience on the force both in Vinton and in Franklin County has taught him that an election can interfere with police work.

"I don't believe in today's society that there is any room for politics in police enforcement," explained Thompson.

Adding a police department would turn control over to the county and add additional officers on patrol.

Thompson said it would also offer job security to those officers, unlike at a sheriff's department where deputies serve at the leisure of the sheriff.

"It's very unfortunate that when a new sheriff comes in and is elected, some people lose their job. You don't have to worry about that in a police department," continued Thompson.

State code mandates that a sheriff's department still exist, but it would possibly shift the department's focus more on running the county jail.

Thompson said now that the county is growing with the addition of new businesses and an industrial park, the need for increased public safety is there.

"But that is what I think a police department will do, is make things better." Thompson said.

Ultimately the decision would be left up to the people of Franklin County in a vote.

The topic will come up again at the board meeting on Tuesday.

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