VINCENT, Ala. (WIAT) — The City of Vincent no longer has a police department after the city council voted unanimously to disband the squad Thursday night.

Vincent City Council voted to temporarily disband the police department after allegations of racist texts between officers on the force emerged last week. Shelby County Sheriff’s Office will be taking over patrol for the city.

Two officers were put on leave earlier this month following the allegation of the racist text messages. The third and only officer left on the force resigned after the situation came to light.

Over a dozen citizens spoke during a public hearing Thursday, including Tina Franklin who said she moved to Vincent from Memphis, Tennessee back in 2013.

“We need to rebuild our community, the hurt is there,” Franklin said. “How do I tell my grandson that the place I moved him to, to protect him that there are people in power that don’t like or made the statements about a pregnant woman and a buy one get one free?”

Many other citizens echoed her concerns and said they appreciate having a police department for the city, but said it needs to be rebuilt with officers who respect and care for everyone they serve.

“Please do not take our local law enforcement away from us,” Vincent resident Rick Crowder said. “I have an elderly mother-in-law who I love dearly that would have a difficult time keeping an intruder at bay for five minutes, much less 25 minutes.”

Vincent Mayor James Latimer said they cannot fire officers unless they receive two write-ups and a verbal warning as per the city law. He said there were no verbal complaints of misconduct against the officers prior.

Latimer said it’s been tough to figure out a compromise to please everyone.

“I think what we did tonight was the best thing for everybody,” Latimer said. “I wish it could be a more satisfactory resolution for everybody, but I think we did the only thing we really could do at this point.”

The two officers who were placed on leave will be laid off five days from Friday when the ordinance passed unanimously on Thursday is rewritten. Council voted to change the wording of the ordinance to temporarily disband the department instead of abolishing it altogether.

Latimer said the city is committed to rebuilding a new police department and hopes to have it complete by October 2023 when the contract Vincent enters into with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office would be up.

“I understand people are upset,” Latimer said. “We’re always transparent about everything as much as we can be. There are some things we are required to keep confidential by law, and we have to follow those laws, or else we open the city up to liability.”

A formal ethics complaint will be sent Tuesday morning for further investigation into the department.

Latimer said the officers will be laid off and unable to return to the department.