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Ohio town starts off new year with no police force, new response times worry citizens

Image credit: Lynchburg Ohio Police Department 2014-2015 Facebook page.
Image credit: Lynchburg Ohio Police Department 2014-2015 Facebook page.

A rural Ohio village is without a police force this Monday morning. On his very first day on the job Friday, Mayor Terry Burden, ordered that all 14 officers of the Lynchburg Police Department be let go.

This is not the first upheaval for the small volunteer force and the community.

Two years ago, the city fired its police staff, citing financial issues. A small force of mostly volunteers stepped in to fill the gap a few weeks later.

It is unknown if budget constraints contributed to the early 2016 layoffs, but according to one local councilman — Lynchburg PD was operating with an annual budget of roughly $60,000.

“Here we go again,” Councilman Christopher Green told WCPO. “Every time we lose the police, crime goes up, vandalism goes up, drug crime goes up.”

Green also said he wasn’t made aware of Friday’s layoffs in advance. He hopes to find out more at an emergency village council meeting which is scheduled for this week.

Lynchburg Citizens,As of 4:00PM today, all Police Officers and Command Staff have been laid off, per Mayor Burden….

Posted by Lynchburg Ohio Police Department 2014-2015 on Friday, January 1, 2016

“Maybe the new mayor has a plan. If he does, he hasn’t shared it with me, but I know we are low to no funds left in the police fund,” Green added.

While the village police station’s doors remain locked and uniforms sit stacked on the table inside, Lynchburg will now be patrolled by the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, according to local media reports. Many residents said they’re worried about how long it will take for a deputy to arrive.

One longtime Lynchburg resident who spoke with WCPO said she’s furious over the new mayor’s decision to disband the entire force.

“You don’t change something the very first day you’re in…you gotta find out what’s going on before you just get in and stab and cut people and that’s what he’s doing… he’s turning against the residents…it’s just not right.”

“I got my concealed carry so I can protect my own family, but I am concerned with the other people in town,” said Christina Gill.

According to Cincinnati.com, all the police officers and commanders in the department lost their jobs at 4 p.m. Friday. A Facebook post on the police dept’s page alerted citizens to the change.

The former mayor of Lynchburg said the village had been struggling with the police budget for more than six years. In a 2009 blog post, Jeremy Shaffer indicated that budget constraints might lead to the department being closed.

The village of Lynchburg — located about 50 miles northeast of Cincinnati — is home to 1,500 residents.

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