Roeland Park Police Department could close when Walmart shuts down

ROELAND PARK, Kan. - The Roeland Park, Kan., City Council is preparing for a financial crisis when the Walmart at Roe and 51st Street closes.

To make up for an estimated $700,000 loss in sales tax revenue, Mayor Adrienne Foster said she would consider eliminating the Roeland Park Police Department to save money. The Chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee said he opposes the Mayor's plan.

The Walmart is closing because a new one is being built in nearby Mission, Kan. The superstore will close in Roeland Park in 2014.

"We still have time -- we're not desperate yet," said Marek Gliniecki, Roeland Park City Council Member and Public Safety Committee Chairman. "I'm not ready to eliminate the police department. That's not even an option."

The Roeland Park Police Department has 20 full-time and part-time employees. They serve 6,500 people in the city, which boarders from Nall to Mission and Johnson Drive to the County Line Road. It's annual budget is $1.4 million.

All council members are developing budget-cutting proposals. Eliminating the police department was one of many suggestions on the mayor's list. But if the police department is eliminated, the city would have to hire the Johnson County Sheriff's Department to provide public safety services.

"Phasing out the police department is not the right thing to do, and I'm not sure it would even save the city any money," Gliniecki said.

He said other city council members are also against eliminating the police department, and citizens object, too.

"In our 2012 customer satisfaction survey, the police department had the highest satisfaction from residents," Gliniecki said.

There will be some preliminary budget discussions next January. However, the council will not vote on any proposals until after the elections next April.

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