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Cool Valley to dissolve police department

Cool Valley to dissolve police department

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COOL VALLEY • Cool Valley is dissolving its police department, a move that Mayor Viola Murphy says will save the cash-strapped city about $200,000 a year.

“Our revenues have been less than our expenses, and it was a situation that needed to be addressed,” Murphy said Wednesday. “The city’s budget is only about $1 million, and the Police Department’s portion of that was about $600,000. This will free up money so that the city can address some key needs.”

Cool Valley aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday night to dissolve the 10-member department, which patrols the city of about 1,200.

Murphy said the city was negotiating with neighboring Normandy and Ferguson to have one of those cities take over police service; the choice will be made within a month, she said.

Cool Valley Police Chief Dale Grzeskowiak conceded Wednesday that disbanding his department made economic sense.

Grzeskowiak, 57, has been with the department for 27 years and its chief for 17.

“I have to back the board and the mayor for their decision,” he said. “For a while now, it has been really tough for this city to support a police department.”

Grzeskowiak said he was eligible for retirement but would seek a job with another department.

He said Ferguson and Normandy officials had each said they would expect to hire about half of Cool Valley’s officers to help patrol the city.

“That’s good news for some of our officers because those cities have good police departments,” Grzeskowiak said. “There is a little bit of sadness, which is to be expected. But also a little bit of anticipation about moving on to a new department or a new career.”

Murphy said Ferguson and Normandy also have agreed that police cars that they would use to patrol her city would bear the Cool Valley logo.

“So our city would still have that identity with the officers on patrol,” she said.

Murphy, 64, mayor since 2008, said the city would use the extra money to improve equipment and city services.

“Our computer equipment is outdated. Our streets need repairs. We have at least one street without proper sewer drains. We have outdated vehicles,” she said. “There are a lot of positive things we can do with that money to improve the lives of our residents and to make the city more attractive to businesses.”

Paul Hampel is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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