A rural town in southern Missouri will be without a municipal police force, at least temporarily, after the entire police department has resigned.
What are the details?
Kimberling City Police Chief Craig Alexander submitted his resignation on Aug. 23, informing Kimberling City Mayor Bob Fritz that he had accepted another position in a neighboring town.
Days later, the rest of the Kimberling City police department — three officers and one sergeant — followed his lead, KOLR-TV reported.
Image source: KSPR-TV screenshot
The mass exodus was driven by several factors, according to KSPR-TV:
The reasoning for each resignation varies from not having qualified officers, the current pay rate, no police clerk to assist in the administration of the department, and new opportunities to better themselves. Chief Craig Alexander said he is accepting another position with Branson West Police Department along with Officer Shaun McCafferty.
Fritz told KSPR the resignations were “unexpected and the short notice disappointing.”
However, he vowed to improve the compensation and benefits for police officers in Kimberling City to ensure future retention of police officers. “We’re looking for officers, we’re looking for a new police chief and I think we’ll be fine,” he said.
Who will do law enforcement with no police?
Kimberling City reportedly has an agreement with the Stone County Sherriff’s Department and the nearby city of Branson West to assist with law enforcement while Kimberling City searches for new officers.
“Until then we will be answering all the calls in Kimberling City, we can’t enforce city ordinances, but any other calls we will be handling at this time,” Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader told KSPR.
“It will be a struggle to fill the police department back up with qualified officers, but hopefully they can start working on that soon and get that accomplished,” he added.
With high crime and widespread anti-police sentiment, police departments nationwide are experiencing staffing issues. As the Associated Press noted, retirements and resignations, coupled with recruitment issues, are leaving many police departments under-staffed.
In fact, the Police Executive Research Forum released a study in June showing a 45% increase in police retirements and a nearly 20% increase in resignations in 2020-2021 compared to previous years.
The study also found that hiring had slowed 5%, noting that large police department had experienced “dramatic reductions” in hiring.