Cornelius citizens get chance to speak on police-sheriff merger

In the next week, city of Cornelius officials will host town meetings where citizens can offer feedback and ask questions about the proposal to combine police services with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

There will be a Spanish-speaking town meeting at Centro Cultural, 1110 N. Adair St., in Cornelius, at 11 a.m. Jan. 11. There will be another meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, in the City Council Chambers, 1310 N. Adair St.

Cornelius Police Chief Ken Summers, Cornelius City Manager Rob Drake and Sheriff Pat Garrett will address concerns such as local control, cost and personnel structure.

If the Cornelius City Council votes to merge the Cornelius Police Department into the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at their meeting Tuesday, Jan. 21, an administrator from the sheriff’s office would act as Cornelius police chief instead of current Chief Ken Summers.

The 13 current Cornelius police officers are guaranteed their positions and salaries for one year after the merger is completed if it goes forward.

According to Summers, a consolidation with the sheriff’s office would allow for eight or more additional rural patrol deputies based out of Cornelius without spending any more than the department’s current operating budget. Although their time would not be dedicated to the city, the deputies could help out at times if available.

“This is a huge decision,” said Summers.

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