Columbus Abolishes Police Department

The Columbus Police Department isn't closed for the day, it has been abolished by the Village of Columbus.

"I think the individuals are punished for someone's mistakes,? Mayor Nicole Lawson said. ?This is there livelihood. We're not saying they did something wrong. We don't have money to pay them."

Mayor Lawson's administration had to make the decision after the state's finance department informed her the village was over budget by more than $600,000.

Lawson told ABC-7 she had two choices; either close the department or lose the entire village.

"We were told if we didn't make changes in a month we would be bankrupt and lose our incorporation as municipality," said Lawson.

In addition to police, the village's code enforcement and animal control departments will also be abolished. And a dozen city workers will lose their jobs. Lawson says the village is suffering from the mistakes of the previous administration.

"It's obvious the way it was done didn't work. The CPA's are going to help us establish who dropped the ball. When. Who was responsible," said Lawson.

Rosie Zamora, one of the three officers who lost their job says corruption is to blame.

"Chief [Angelo] Vega was using the money illegally. Now it's going to take a miracle for government to trust Columbus."

Mayor Lawson says the village will depend on Luna County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement. There is already a full-time deputy who lives in the village and three reserves.

Former police chief Angelo Vega's position has been eliminated and taken off the pay roll.

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