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Lisbon, N.D., considers closing police department

The town of Lisbon, N.D., which has about 2,200 people, is considering eliminating the police department.

The town of Lisbon, N.D., which has about 2,200 people, has a police department of three, including the chief.

Now, the city council is talking about the possibility of closing the department in favor of contracting with the Ransom County Sheriff's Department for services, a move that could save $40,000 or more annually, city officials say.

At a recent community meeting, however, many of those in attendance were in favor of keeping the city's police force.

Council member John Otterson said based on that expression of support, his gut feeling is the council will likely opt to keep the status quo.

"There probably won't be a change made," said Otterson, adding the council is expected to discuss the matter again at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Feb. 1.

Mayor Ross Cole isn't sure the idea is dead.

He said the public meeting may not have reflected how everyone in town feels and he has an idea on how to determine public sentiment.

A municipal election is scheduled for June, and Cole said he is looking into whether the police department question can be put on the ballot.

"Then we'll know exactly where we stand," Cole said.

Lisbon Police Chief Jeanette Persons said people in town are going out of their way to let her know that her department is a valued part of the city.

"The comment has always been very favorable. They don't want their police department gone, and that's the bottom line," Persons said.

Persons, who said she may be the only female police chief in North Dakota, said she knows that support for the police department isn't universal.

"Are there people out there that would like to see us gone? Of course there is.

"There are those who do not like law enforcement and what they represent," Persons said.