FULLERTON (CBS/AP) — The Fullerton City Council Tuesday rejected a proposal to consider disbanding its police force.

The council voted 3-2 not to ask the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, who would take over police duties, for a preliminary study on the idea. The plan had been promoted as a cost-saving measure since the 144-officer department has a budget of $37 million a year.

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However, many felt the discussion centered on the fatal beating of homeless man Kelly Thomas.

Three officers — Manuel Anthony Ramos, Joe Wolfe and Jay Cicinelli — also received letters of intent to terminate in May as they face charges including second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter for Thomas’ death.

At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, hundreds of residents protested the possible closure of the police department.

Residents said it’s not about money or the Thomas case. It’s about public safety.

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“Once you make that cut, there’s no going back. No going back,” said a resident.

“Tell our Fullerton PD that they matter to us,” said a woman.

“Sometimes saving a buck isn’t necessarily in the best interest of our community in outsourcing our local police department,” said one man.

Among those opposed was Kelly Thomas’ father, Ron.

Thomas told reporters he’s seen police reforms since the death of his son.

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