In small towns such as Kimberling City, Missouri, crime isn’t all that affluent, at least not on a large scale. And, as such, police departments are needed to be all that large. Kimberling City, for example, only employs six police officers at any given time to keep the peace for the roughly 2,400 that live there.
However, that doesn’t make the force any less important to those who count on them to keep them and their small town safe.
But as the mayor of Kimberling City, Bob Fritz, was just informed, the city is about to be without a single police officer on staff, with the last remaining officer just having resigned on Wednesday.
According to Branson Tri Lake News, the department of no more than six officers has been dwindling for months now, starting in July when a detective retired. The resignations began en masse in late August.
On the 23rd of August, Chief of Police Craig Alexander visited the mayor’s home to resign, saying that he’d been offered another position and was taking it. Shortly afterward, on September 1, Officer Shaun McCafferty followed suit, also stating that he’d been given another employment opportunity, according to his resignation letter. The very next day, on the 2nd, Officer Rutger House resigned.
And on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 7th and 8th, Sergeant Aaron Hoeft, followed by Officer Caleb McCarty, resigned. Hoeft’s letter of resignation stated that he could no longer do his job properly due to the lack of qualified officers to assist him and resources available. Like House, however, McCarty gave no reason at all and simply said he was leaving the department.
As Mayor Fritz told Branson Tri Lake News, the departures are both “unfortunate” and “unexpected.” He explained that it was all “very disappointing. I was really surprised.” He said he had no warning that any officer would leave, much less all of them in such a short time.
Fritz talked to each officer individually last week, encouraging them to stay on and offer any remedies for why they might be leaving. However, they were not to be moved from their decision, stating that “this was just something they had to do after the chief was leaving.”
Now, if you are anything like me, you’re seeing all these resignations as anything but coincidental. I mean, an entire police force, albeit a small one, resigning in a matter of weeks? Something else has to be going on here.
And I’m not the only one to think so.
According to former mayor and current city alderman Jason Hulliung, it all has to do with the town’s current administration and management.
Alderman Hulliung, who has served the city in various ways over the years, told the outlet, ‘I have a serious issue with my entire police department resigning because the entire police department resigning indicates there is a bigger problem. An entire department doesn’t leave for individual, independent reasons.”
And he’s not wrong. Nor are police force members the only ones to have recently resigned. According to Hulliung, the city’s court clerk, “a 17 year employee of Public Works,” has also left their position in recent weeks. In addition, he says that the town has “lost massive amounts of long term experience in the city government in a short amount of time.”
The former mayor says this all points “to the same issue. It is an administration issue.”
Now, unlike in massive metropolises like Chicago, Portland, New York City, or Los Angeles, where city police forces are also seeing a large-scale reduction of employees due to resignation and early retirements, there isn’t exactly proof of any foul play on the part of the mayor of Kimberling City or his staff. He’s not openly disrespecting the force or considering rioters’ desires above that of his own law enforcement.
However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.
And as Alderman Hulliung says, the even larger issue is that Mayor Fritz and his staff aren’t seeing it – you know, just like the Democratic mayors of many of our large cities don’t see the problem.
Only time will tell how long it takes Kimberling City to get its police force back up and running. To be sure, it will be much sooner than getting the kinks worked out of cities like Chicago.