Residents upset after Ridgetop Police Department shut down suddenly

Posted at 1:05 PM, Jun 11, 2019

RIDGETOP, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Ridgetop Police Department has disbanded and closed its doors after a meeting Monday night.

Back on May 3, Mayor Tony Reasoner told the Robertson County Sheriff’s Office that the police department would move to being part-time. However, the decision to fully close the department was reached last night.

"Really the only budget that was not going good is the police department's," said Reasoner. "The general fund that goes to the police department is $129,000 and we're not counting anything else from the revenue to support that."

Ridgetop Police Chief Bryan Morris said he told the council the department could run on $289,000. However, the council said that wasn't possible.

"Theirs was almost half the total budget and we just couldn't keep going with that. Unless we started taking out of streets, parks, fire and we just couldn't do it," said Reasoner.

Morris said the reason behind the closure has nothing to do with the budget.

Earlier this year, Morris claimed Vice Mayor McCaw Johnson demanded the police department to write 210 tickets every month to make at least $300,000 in a meeting in late 2017 to fix budget issues.

Robertson County Assistant District Attorney Jim Milam did not press charges in the case, saying what the city did was not criminal but it did go against a state directive. The department wrote $258,000 worth of tickets last year -- five times the average for other cities that size.

"Honestly, it's happening because they're angry," Morris said. "They're angry with me for pointing out their wrong doings. Obviously, they can sit up there and say all day we did nothing wrong. But it was found they did violate a statute. There's no punishment for that statute, but to say I did nothing wrong is not true."

As a result, the sheriff’s office said it will be responding to calls within the city limits, which will increase their call volume. Right now, the agency is also responding to calls in Coopertown and Cross Plans.

Sheriff Michael Van Dyke has requested the county commission to provide additional patrol deputies for this fiscal year.

“The Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to providing professional law enforcement services to every citizen of Robertson County, and must be allocated the resources to do so,” Sheriff Van Dyke said in a statement.

Residents say they're upset with how the situation was handled.

"I'm very disappointed in our Aldermen and our mayor. I feel like they don't have our best interests at heart," said Karen Mann.