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Cross Roads agrees to enter negotiations to create joint police force

Profile image for By John D. Harden / Staff Writer
By John D. Harden / Staff Writer

Cross Roads officials have decided to move negotiations forward with Aubrey and Krugerville to create a joint police department and municipal court.

The consolidation of services has garnered strong support from local leaders, who want to prepare for the commercial and residential developments expected to break ground along U.S. highways 377 and 380 in a couple of years.

The consolidation of the departments would benefit each city, Aubrey Police Chief Tommy Payne said.

“To get the manpower we need to get to a [24/7] level of services puts a burden on the budgets. But by combining, that burden is eased,” he said.

Cross Roads Mayor Steve Smith and the Town Council were the last to agree to enter the negotiations.

Smith said he wanted the council and residents to discuss the pros and cons of having a joint police department.

The consolidation was just one of a few options the town considered, he said.

Smith’s biggest concern was determining whether or not it was worth it for the town to increase its annual budget for a joint department.

Smith said the consolidation is only worthwhile if it makes “financial sense.”

According to a proposed budget outline, the three municipalities would split the cost of operations. Aubrey and Krugerville already have police budgets and would simply adjust their budgets.

Aubrey spends about $400,000 for its police department, and Krugerville spends about $157,000.

But Cross Roads will need to create a new expense if the consolidation is approved. The Denton County Sheriff’s Office serves Cross Roads, which does not have its own police force.

Smith said the city is committing $300,000 in annual funding and an additional one-time amount of $150,000 for equipment. Aubrey and Krugerville are committing $300,000 and $200,000, respectively.

Officials say the amounts that each city contributes could change over time.

“We’re the smallest and can’t match what each city is putting up right now,” Krugerville Mayor Dave Hill said. “At the end of each year, we’ll review the budgets and adjust, accordingly.”

The combined police force would have at least 13 employees, including a police chief, an assistant police chief, an investigator and seven patrol officers.

Police department officials from Krugerville and Aubrey have supported the idea for a joint department since talks began.

Payne said the idea of joint services has been kicked around for many years, but never gained traction.

Talks were revisited after developers began eyeballing the area for residential development and new businesses, including a new Walmart Supercenter that’s expected to open this year.

About five months ago, the three municipalities met to discuss plans to merge police forces as well as court systems in an effort to boost the services in their region.

Officials said the joint department is modeled after cities that have combined their forces in a similar fashion.

Officials researched the Houston-area cities Bunker Hill, Hunter Creek and Piney Point, which consolidated their police forces in 1977.

Some residents have expressed concerns about which city would be responsible for maintaining the joint department, officials say.

Officials said the decision to enter negotiations doesn’t mean that the consolidation is a done deal.

“Details can be addressed, but first, everyone is trying to see who’s on board with the idea,” Smith said.

The cities hope to have the agreements finalized and operational by Oct. 1, the start of a new budget year.

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882and via Twitter at @JDHarden.