GLADE SPRING, Va. — Glade Spring Police Chief Ricky Stumbo is asking Town Council to hire an additional officer because he is now the only employee of the department.
"I would hope we can move to hire one [new officer] pretty rapidly," Stumbo said at the Town Council meeting Monday night.
Councilwoman Tonia Kestner made a motion to have the town’s finance committee look at the current budget in conjunction with hiring an additional officer, and it was approved unanimously.
"In the meantime, we’re not going to have the kind of coverage that we’re used to having with two and definitely not with three officers," Kestner said.
Councilman Dirk Moore said the town should look at hiring new officers "through long-term budgeting"— over the next five years.
"What if we really want to hire a really qualified officer? We might not have money in the budget," Moore said.
Since 2012, five officers have left the department, Stumbo said. Officer Jared Walls recently left the department.
In January, Stumbo and Walls answered 45 calls for service, five of which they answered together, according to the department’s monthly report.
"With continued cuts to staffing needs of the Police Department, I have been backed into a position where I am unable to meet the previous expectations of our community," Stumbo said. "With just me, it’s not going to be sustainable."
The main concern is emergency calls, he said. Additionally, he is behind on administrative work that he would need help with even with two employees, the chief said.
Glade Spring officials were working to have the Washington County Sheriff’s Office provide law enforcement services for the town, but Sheriff Fred Newman withdrew from negotiations on Jan. 19.
"It was never our intention, when we proceeded with this request, to spark major public concern, debate, or in some instances outrage," Newman said in a letter to Mayor Tony Rector. "It is obvious by the public comments from members of your council and others that you have a lot more work to do in this area."
About a dozen citizens spoke out against dissolving the Police Department during a public hearing on Jan. 18.
In other business, council went into a closed session for approximately 25 minutes for "discussion and consideration of the performance and possible demotion and/or disciplining of a specific employee or employees of the town," according to the meeting agenda. After approximately 20 minutes, Stumbo was called into the closed session. No action was taken.