Former Francisco Marshal: Town discussing disbanding police department

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FRANCISCO, Ind. (WEHT) — After 113 years, Francisco, Indiana, may no longer have a police department — leaving some to question what would happen if people there need assistance from law enforcement.

Former Town Marshal Michael Collins tells Eyewitness News that this is not related to the nationwide movement to defund police departments.

“I got a phone call from the attorney here just out of the blue saying, ‘Hey they had a special session about you, and they chose to get rid of you.’ That’s exactly how it went,” said Collins.

Collins says there has been tension between the town board and the police department since 2018.

In March of 2020, Collins says he was placed on administrative leave. He says this is because the town told him the department wasn’t patrolling the school zone enough, which he claims is untrue.

Eyewitness News has made multiple attempts to contact Board President Harold Everett for comment on the matter, but we have not yet heard back.

“It’s an extreme disservice to the community. The community pays taxes to have a police department, and to me, it’s totally neglecting their duties to provide protection for this town,” said Collins.

Without a police department, Collins and Clint Allbright, former Marshal’s Deputy and Former Board Member say, crime will increase in the area. Allbright estimates 600 people live in the town based on a census they conducted while he was a board member.

“You can notice the speeding through town here, in the past two months I believe that we have not had a Marshal’s department. People know that they can come in here. Next to my house, there was a break-in about a month or so, ago. The drug activity is definitely picking up in the town. You can see it,” said Allbright.

If the town disbands the department, the Gibson County Sheriff’s Office would be responsible for calls in the area, according to Collins. Collins says their response time could be well over an hour, depending on where they are located in the county.

“Common sense-wise, there should be a police department. It’s ridiculous — the actions that they’ve taken,” said Collins.

“Yes, there have been issues. But, we’ve always had an active police department. We’ve never let it transition into something where we’d get rid of it. It would be asinine to even think something like that, because you’re leaving every person in this community, and even part of Center Township to an extent, completely unprotected,” said Allbright.

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(This story was originally published on June 16, 2020)

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