A county sheriff’s office in Kentucky has suspended all law enforcement operations because it has run out of money, leaving many residents much less secure as they are forced to rely on only state police, according to the Courier-Journal.

Martin County Sheriff John Kirk has some advice for residents of the county while his department is shut down, however.

“Folks, lock your doors, load your guns and get you a barking, biting dog,” Kirk wrote on Facebook. “If the sheriff’s office can’t protect you, who will?”

How did this happen?

Kirk told attendees at a fiscal court meeting last week that his department was still waiting on a $75,000 payment from the court that was due in January.

The sheriff also cited additional expenses that the department was now responsible for, including compensation insurance, retirement, and social security. The additional expenses total about $99,000.

Several counties in Kentucky are in dire financial situations due to a decrease in coal severance tax revenue, which dropped from $34 million in fiscal 2012 to only $6.7 million in fiscal 2018.

How will this effect law enforcement?

The Martin County Sheriff’s Office has suspended all law enforcement operations, and the office hours for the department will be 8 a.m. to noon on weekdays for the foreseeable future.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, county officials still intend to pay the department the $75,000, but they can’t say exactly when that will happen.

So, law enforcement in Martin County will be limited to state police. That is not likely to get the job done, as the Courier-Journal reported that there is sometimes only one officer responsible for patrolling multiple counties.

“We have always provided police protection but without the funding we can no longer do this,” Kirk wrote in his Facebook post. “I’m sorry and I apologize to the employees and to the citizens of our county. I am truly sorry.”

(H/T The Hill)

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