The controversial decision had been rumored around town for weeks, but became official on Thursday. Late in the afternoon, the laid-off police personnel received letters of notice that they were out of a job.
The town board, with one member absent, voted unanimously to lay off two of eight employees of the Sharpsburg Police Department. The move was made to save money as the town looks for ways to deal with a large budget deficit.
Officers gathered early at Town Hall to find out who would be getting pink slips. Town officials kept them waiting for most of the day. Even the police chief wasn't sure about his job.
"If I'm getting fired, just go ahead and tell me, so that I can go on home and go about my business." said Chief William Pernell.
Local store clerk Darlene Pearce said that the decision to cut officers puts Sharpsburg citizens at risk.
"It takes away our protection," said Pearce.
Sharpsburg resident and former board member Issac Joyner said that the right decision was made. He said that the board did what it had to do to keep the town going.
"If it boils down to it, I'll sit on my front porch with a shotgun in my hand," said Joyner.
Late in the afternoon, dispatcher Trudy Garner got the first letter saying that she's out of work in a week. Gardner believed that the police department was targeted from the start, and that the board didn't consider other ways to save money.
"The worst part of the thing was waiting all day to find out, when I think they could've told me first thing this morning," said Garner.
Chief Pernell got the final letter of the day, saying that he has one week to resign or his employment will be terminated. Despite the original decision only to lay off two employees, a third officer - a detective - also got a letter stating that he was losing his job. Several Sharpsburg Town Board members and other town leaders declined to comment on the decision.
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