The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
The question that remains unresolved after the January County Board meeting was:
How can we provide adequate police protection to all citizens of Henderson County, while at the same time insure the safety of members of the Sheriff's department, while the Village of Gulfport establishments remain open to operate until 5 a.m. or later?
The hours between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. have become extremely dangerous for our Sheriff's Department.
During these hours, the bars in Burlington close and their patrons head to Gulfport because they remain open.
This has caused a number of problems. There have been a significant number of drug and weapon arrests.
Our DUI filings are significantly more than counties twice our size.
In the past two months there has been a brutal beating and a shooting. Rarely are these criminal offenses committed by citizens of Henderson County.
As we do not have authority to set the hours of operation for businesses within the corporate limits of a municipality, the Board has discussed several options which include the following:
1) Seek the help of the citizens of Gulfport to request that they close their drinking and dancing establishments the same time as Burlington:
2) Request that the members of the Sheriff's department do not respond alone to calls in Gulfport during those hours:
3) Increase the Sheriff's department budget in order to hire additional deputies. This will impact the entire county by either cutting other services or raising taxes;
4) Request the Village to properly staff their police department with appropriately trained officers;
5) Request assistance from the State Police and other state agencies to set up traffic details to monitor all traffic entering and leaving Gulfport during high traffic times to ensure the safety of our citizenry.
For the citizens of Gulfport, we desire to provide you with adequate police protection. But it cannot come at the expense of all the other citizens of the county.
For too long, Henderson County as a whole has shouldered more than its fair share of the burden.
Out of the options listed above, the only long term solution is for the citizens of Gulfport and its Village Board to step up and close their establishments at the same time as every other bar in this area.
/s/ Richard W. Clifton