'Best little town by a dam site' divided over proposal to shut down local police department

A recent decision to shut down the local police department is dividing a town just south of the Twin Cities.

Morristown calls itself  the best little town by a dam site.

The city council recently approved plans to pay the Rice County Sheriff's Office to take over policing the town in May.

The mayor says the department has lost two of its three officers since the beginning.

But this community of roughly 1,000 citizens could soon lose one of its long-standing institutions.

"It's a little concerning to me as a resident not to have a police officer here in town that could meet the needs of the community as they arise," resident Lori Stell said.

"The decision was made April 10. In my mind, it’s a good decision," Mayor Kurt Wolf said. "At this point, I'd have to hear some pretty serious allegations against the Sheriff's Office to go back on what I voted for." 

But angry residents have collected more than 300 signatures--more than half the registered voters in town-- from people who are against shutting the department down.

They believe losing the final part-time officer, Chris Langer--who is an Iraq War vet--would increase response times and cause the community to lose part of its identity.

"We've always had a poilce department here that worked well with our kids. They've been family," resident Dale Dulas said.

And if it costs more to keep that family together, some residents say that's a price they'd be willing to pay.

"I think that's something that should be addressed by the entire community," Stell said.

The Rice County Board of Commissioners approved the contract and sent it back to the city council for a final vote, scheduled for May 1.