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Richwood's administrator speaks

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RICHWOOD, La. (KNOE 8 News) - In news we're continuing to follow, Richwood's Fiscal Administrator is talking about his decision to essentially shut down the town's police department.

As you may remember, he refused to make a comment when the employees were let go at the end of November.

On Tuesday, he sat down to explain his reasons.

Jonald Walker says he closed almost all of Richwood's Police Department because of payroll expenses. He said it was a hard decision, but a necessary one.

The day before Thanksgiving, employees of the Richwood Police Department arrived at work to find a letter of termination, without much explanation.

"Unfortunately we had to make the tough call. I do apologize in that respect. How it was done and so forth. I'm not sure what more differently could have been done in that respect," Walker said.     

 Walker said the police department made-up 75 percent of payroll costs for the city.

"It wasn't like, do we do the police department or do we do this other area that would give us basically the same level of cuts and at least with the police department we had an alternative way to make sure public safety was being maintained and kept."

Now the Ouachita Sheriff's Office is in charge of patrolling the area. And Sheriff Jay Russell said the transition has been fairly smooth.

"The guys they are in their zones anyhow and they are readily available to respond to calls in that area so it really hasn't put us in a bind," Russell said.  

Walker said at the moment he doesn't see any larger department cuts.

He said hopefully, someday the police department will re-open. But that will not happen in the near future.

Even though most police department employees were cut, the Chief of Police is still on staff. 

Walker said that was an administrative decision and would not go into more detail. 

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