A Missouri police chief and all of his officers tendered their resignations, citing reasons from the pay rate to not having the proper tools to do the job, leaving local leaders scrambling to fill the positions as many departments already struggle to stay staffed during the anti-police climate that swept the nation.
“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,” Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said of the resignations at the Kimberling City Police Department, noting that most police stations are understaffed.
Rader’s comment comes after Kimberling City Police Chief Craig Alexander put in his notice on Aug. 23 after accepting another position, and told the town’s mayor that he wanted a change and to better himself.
But Alexander wasn’t alone, and was soon joined by three officers and a sergeant.
The reasons for the resignations include there not being a police clerk to assist the department, not having qualified officers in the department, the pay rate, and new opportunities, KY3 reported.
“I didn’t know there were that many openings in Branson West because we didn’t see an advertisement for police,” Kimberling City Mayor Bob Fritz said, referring to Alexander and officer Shaun McCafferty taking jobs at the Branson West Police Department.
The mayor said the resignations were “unexpected and the short notice disappointing.”
“We’re looking for officers, we’re looking for a new police chief and I think we’ll be fine,” Fritz added.
In the meantime, the Stone County Sheriff’s office will handle emergency calls until the department is staffed.
“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,” Sheriff Rader said.
The resignations come as small town police departments across the country struggle to stay staffed as crimes increase and following more than a year of politicians and activists calling for departments to be defunded.
A recent survey found there has been a 45% increase in the retirement rate and a nearly 20% increase in resignations from officers in 2020-2021 compared to the previous year, according to the Police Executive Research Forum.
Larger cities’ police departments have also struggled with staffing amid the anti-police sentiment and their local leaders supporting the defund the police movement last summer. But liberal leaders, like in Seattle, have recently reversed course and called for departments to be beefed up.
“As a city, we cannot continue on this current trajectory of losing police officers,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said during a press conference in July. “Over the past 17 months, the Seattle Police Department has lost 250 police officers, which is the equivalent of over 300,000 service hours. We’re on path to losing 300 police officers.”