The Prestonsburg Police Department is one of the hardest-working departments in Eastern Kentucky.

Situated along both U.S. 23 and the Mountain Parkway, officers with the department and all other policing agencies which cover Floyd County are stretched to the limit dealing with not only local crimes, but also a great amount of drug trafficking and related crimes.

The City of Allen has struggled over the past decade to recover from years of neglect and abuse by its leaders. When the Floyd County Chronicle and Times first began digging into the city’s government years ago, our findings were shocking.

For a small town, it provided a massive example of a failing government. As an example, a failure to file paperwork with the state had hindered the city’s ability to access funding to address one of the primary purposes of a city — maintaining and repairing roads.

Another essential service provided by a city is a police force. In fact, providing adequate policing is one of the primary purposes behind a municipal government. A city which can’t do that doesn’t have a whole lot of business being in business.

Last year, after Allen’s city government failed to keep its department going, the city voted to enter into a contract with the Prestonsburg Police Department so the nearby city could help provide coverage at a bargain cost of $1,000 a month.

For what the City of Allen received, the rate was a steal, and there’s no way that rate was enough to cover the costs of covering Allen, which likely would have been responsible for more than double that if it had simply maintained its department of only one officer.

Regardless of the reasons, for just over a year, the people of Allen have received 24-7 protection from the Prestonsburg Police Department, including patrols and emergency response, and, as Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton said during a Feb. 14 special meeting of the Allen City Commission, the department did some work in the Allen city limits.

“I did some investigating with our 911 system. This is not counting the state calls that came in, it's just our 911. We’ve written 240 citations, made 87 arrests, worked 19 collisions, we’ve had 11 felonious investigations and we’ve had two domestic violence reports that meet the JC-3 criteria which basically means a significant other or child,” Stapleton said.

But, as is tradition with Allen, there were complaints, including allegations of inadequate service, which prompted Prestonsburg to issue a 60-day termination notice at the Feb. 14 meeting.

Allen is a municipality that specializes in shooting itself in the foot based on questionable reasons and this situation is no different.

Vague complaints of a lack of coverage with no quantifiable backing which have been levied against Prestonsburg are reminiscent of the past controversies in which Allen found itself, where the truth of what Allen officials were getting at lay just below the surface and the reasons given never really matched the reality.

Did crime happen in Allen over the past year, with the Prestonsburg Police Department covering? Of course. The same thing happened in every community across the United States, whether it has a police force the size of a small military or a single person.

Proactive policing is only a part of what a department does. Some crimes are prevented, but crimes are going to happen which cannot or are not prevented. That’s just reality.

But, as Stapleton pointed out, over the past year, Prestonsburg police have written 240 citations in Allen. That means that Prestonsburg found evidence of some form of criminal activity, whether it was a traffic violation or a crime such as drug trafficking, 240 times in a year. That’s nothing to sneeze at. And, considering the rate Allen paid wasn’t even enough to adequately pay a police officer for even two weeks of work, not even counting the vehicle and equipment costs Allen would have paid before, it’s ridiculous to imply that Prestonsburg did not cover Allen.

No, as it has been in the past with Allen, the truth is an elusive thing in this case. Internet rumors and officials with likely hidden motives or axes to grind have scuttled Allen’s current best opportunity to provide a vital service for its residents.

And the city has no one to blame but themselves. A city which cannot provide adequate policing has a tall mountain to climb to prove its worth the taxes it requires citizens and businesses to pay. Allen is in that boat now — with the full weight of proving its worth squarely on its own back.

Whether it can do so is the question.

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