One North Dakota city’s police department is shutting down.
KX found out what the future will hold for the city of Belfield’s safety.
It was back in August of 2012 when Stephen Byrne first joined the Belfield Police Department.
And since then, he has seen many changes — from the oil boom to getting his own K-9.
“There were significant concerns when I interviewed for the position in Belfield: that people didn’t feel safe walking out on the streets at night, kids being out. I think what I’m very proud of at this point– We’re not perfect by any means but you see a lot more kids out and about, families out, taking walks at night,” said Chief Byrne.
Over the course of nine years, Chief Byrne says as officers have come and gone, the top priority for him has always been to maintain a relationship with the community.
“What I’ve tried to do is instill a trust in the community that when they bring something to us that we do our best to be proactive and do what we can to hear the problem and do something about the problem,” explained Chief Byrne.
As of July 15, the city of Belfield’s one-man police force will be merging with the Stark County Sheriff’s Department.
“Well, part of the agreement, what people didn’t know at first, Belfield was giving us a contract that was rather large in some people’s eyes. But that contract fee is, what it’s doing is hiring two additional deputies,” explained Corey Lee, the Stark County’s Sheriff.
In the new agreement, deputies will also be equipped by Belfield.
“So what will go with us is my patrol vehicle, is a K-9 patrol vehicle, so that will come with us. There’s one other vehicle that we have that will also be transferred to Stark County for their deputy that will be starting out,” said Chief Byrne.
The merger may mean an ending of an era, but it’s also the beginning of a new one as patrols in the city will be taken up a notch.
“What we’re going to do with these two positions is add what we call power shifts and move that time around a little bit because we never want the bad guys to know when we’re going to be out there. But we’re going to have that increase coverage in our time in need,” said Sheriff Lee.
In the merger, Chief Byrne will continue to work right along side his K-9 partner, Thor.
Since the last officer left the department almost a year ago, Chief Byrne says he hasn’t been able to make a trip back home to Minnesota.