by Anayeli Ruiz
HOWARD COUNTY - Police officers and deputies in Howard County all under one roof. They're looking at combining forces which would cut costs to taxpayers. Currently the Big Spring Police Department has a building of its own, but they were looking for a newer, bigger place.
While the Howard County Sheriff's Department is still at the county courthouse, despite having a new jail, they're looking at moving soon. Both agencies decided it would be a good idea to come together and have a law enforcement facility that would house both departments.
"Its been in the talks for several years where we are trying to get a combined law enforcement facility," Big Spring Police Chief, Lonnie Smith, said.
Police Chief Lonnie Smith and Sheriff Stan Parker have been working together to help fight the crime in Big Spring and Howard County for a few years. The only difference is they'll be under the same roof.
"Currently we are duplicating a lot of services. That duplication is basically twice the money." Parker said.
And according to officials, the facility would cut cost to both city and county governments which means taxpayers would get back some extra cash.
"Cost savings is one of the biggest things that we have seen, its pretty substantial. The building itself would wind up paying itself off and it would just be a benefit for the taxpayers," Parker said.
Currently both departments share the jail. They have also combined their narcotics division, animal control, crime division and their investigations. And once they're under the same roof, they hope to be able to assist each other more in the war on crime.
"If either entity needed assistance, the officers would already be one step up. Instead of having to get a briefing. They would already have the ground work on this, so that they would have a better response to it," Smith said.
Even though they would share the same building, they're still two separate law enforcement agencies.
"As far as the public getting the idea that we are just gonna have one agency, that's not what this is about. This is about having one facility where the citizens can go and can call for law enforcement or civil to get assistance," Smith said.
The City of Big Spring previously put away $1.7 million for the Big Spring Police Department. Both law enforcement departments are planning to have a joint meeting with City Officials and Howard County Commissioners on Feb. 8 at 5:30 at the County Courthouse.
The meeting is open to the public, they want to present their proposal and get feedback from the community.