Edinburg police count down to the end

The last minute of the last shift for the Edinburg Police Department was scheduled to fall at 10 p.m. Tuesday when officer Terry Polk pulled up to police headquarters for the final time in a squad car bearing the town’s name.

The car won’t be back, but Polk will be. He will reappear Friday wearing a brown Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office uniform instead of the blue favored by the town.

Town residents may not notice much else different when the Sheriff’s Office takes over from the police department Wednesday. The police headquarters will remain open as a satellite office, and the Sheriff’s Office has assigned Polk to remain in Edinburg where he will be on patrol in the afternoon and well into the night. Deputies elsewhere in the county will answer calls from Edinburg the remainder of the time.

The town council voted in May to discontinue the police department, weeks after the retirement of Chief Mike Clem. Council members and Mayor Daniel Harshman cited problems in staffing, paying for a department that could provide 24-7 coverage and a desire to eliminate the $138,000 annual cost of maintaining police service as their main reasons for letting the Sheriff’s Office take over.

The Sheriff’s Office agreed to hire Polk and the town’s other remaining police officer, who has since moved on to Mount Jackson.

Polk, who has been with the department 9 1/2 years after an earlier stint with the Sheriff’s Office, said he will turn in his uniform Wednesday.

“This is it. I’m finishing up today,” Polk said while on a break at a local convenience store.

Mayor Daniel Harshman said town residents are unlikely to notice any change other than more patrol cars from the Sheriff’s Office. He predicted the change will mean more, not less, police protection.

“They’re going to be using the old police station office,” Harshman said of the sheriff’s deputies. “There will be more of a presence. The deputies here will have a footprint in the middle of the county. We will open our office to the state police, too.”

Polk said he looked forward to continuing patrols in Edinburg, the town where he grew up.

“I know everybody here, and they know me,” Polk said.

Harshman said deputies are already doing more business checks around the town, and he has seen more county patrol cars on the streets since the transition to the Sheriff’s Office was approved.

“This definitely is uncharted territory,” Harshman said. “For us, we definitely expect it to be a smooth transition. I think it will be a good thing for the town.”

Harshman said the town government will sell the squad car by taking unsealed bids on it, the same method used to dispose of previous police vehicles. Some of them can still be seen on the town streets, minus their official markings.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com