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Thursday, September 29, 2022
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Local Police Chief Resigns After Department Budget Cuts

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Former Blue Mound police chief Dusty Steele during an interview in June 2022. | Image by Fox 4 News

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The police chief in Blue Mound has resigned believing city leaders want to defund the police department.

During a Thursday public hearing on the city budget, Dusty Steele removed his badge and set it down in front of Mayor Darlene Copeland signifying his resignation.

The city council was set to reduce the police budget for the second consecutive year. Steele said he believes the cuts were made to intentionally defund the police, but Copeland defended the decision as a necessary result of budget constraints.

“There has been no discussion whatsoever about defunding the police department,” Copeland told Fox 4 News.

“Like many other cities, times are hard, inflation is at an all-time high and hard decisions have to be made when it comes to budget,” she added. “Outsourcing the police dispatch was one of many options laid out for the council to make decisions on.”

Copeland explained revenue for Blue Mound has plateaued despite property value increases over the past two years. This year, the small city will see less than $1,000 in tax revenue from new developments, according to CBS News.

The city council was already considering a $150,000 reduction to the police department’s budget, which accounts for more than half of the city’s general fund budget.

Steele insisted the police have “a very limited budget for equipment and necessary things that we need.”

With other government agencies adding new signing bonuses and quick climbs to high salaries, Steele said he had been pushing for pay raises for his police officers.

However, Blue Mound’s proposed budget not only kept salaries flat but also brought funding for the 12-person department under $1 million, more than $200,000 lower than it was in 2021.

On the morning of the hearing, a post on the Blue Mound Police Department’s Facebook page called for residents to attend the hearing and support the department’s funding needs.

The Facebook page appears to have since been shut down.

Many residents did show up in support of the police, with some concerned that outsourcing dispatching could lead to longer wait times for 911 calls to be answered.

After Steele’s resignation, both Copeland and Steele left the door open for potential reconciliation, as the mayor said the town appreciates Steele’s service to the town.

The city council did not approve the planned budget but plans to meet next week in a second attempt.          

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Carla W.
Carla W.
10 days ago

Next time someone needs police help call the mayor’s house. Find out what the number is and call her house. Report the crime to council members. File lawsuits against these irresponsible FOOLS.

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