A small southern Missouri town finds itself without a city police force after every officer in its police department resigns. Police Chief Craig Alexander gave Mayor Bob Fritz of the rural village of around 2,300 his resignation on August 23. The former chief advised the mayor that he had accepted a different position with a department in a nearby town.
A few days later, the remaining four officers with the town police department all resigned as well. The officers gave various reasons for seeking work elsewhere, including better pay, opportunities for advancement, and the lack of qualified personnel in the department and the city. The chief and another officer accepted jobs with the Branson West Police Department.
The mayor said that the resignations coming together and with little notice was “disappointing.” He promised to improve compensation and overall conditions with the now-empty department to find and retain new officers and a chief. He said, “I think we’ll be fine.”
Kimberling City has reciprocal agreements with the Stone County Sheriff and neighboring city Branson West to assist with everyday law enforcement work while looking for newly qualified officers.
Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader stated that his department could respond to calls for assistance in Kimberling City but was not authorized to enforce city ordinances. The sheriff acknowledged that the town is struggling to locate qualified officers to work in its police department.
Police departments across America face staffing challenges as crime increases rapidly in many areas, and anti-police sentiment among many politicians and the media runs rampant. The Associated Press has recently reported on the growing under-staffing crisis fueled by early retirements and resignations in many locations.
A study released in June by the Police Executive Research Forum indicates a 45 percent increase in police staff retirements and almost 20 percent in resignations since the beginning of 2020 compared with earlier years. Hiring nationwide has slowed by 5 percent, with larger departments facing the most dramatic reductions in new hires.
Leaders in liberal cities like Seattle have started to shift from criticizing their police to showing concern for dwindling numbers in their police departments as crime and disorder rages. In July, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said that the city’s police department had lost 250 officers, amounting to more than 300,000 service hours, in 17 months. She admitted that her city “cannot continue on this current trajectory” of staffing losses.