Kimberling City Police Department officers cite low pay, an under-equipped department and competing job opportunities as reasons for leaving.
The police chief of the Kimberling City Police Department in Missouri tendered his resignation, along with every one of his officers, leaving city officials to scramble to fill the positions.
The resignations come as police departments across the country struggle to remain staffed amid a year of anti-police rhetoric and a pandemic causing high resignation rates and recruiting difficulties.
Kimberling City Police Chief Craig Alexander put in his notice on Aug. 23 after accepting another position, according to Fox News.
Alexander was soon joined by three officers and a sergeant who cited new job opportunities, current pay rates, not enough qualified officers in the department and the lack of a police clerk as their reason for leaving.
Sergeant Aaron Hoeft submitted his resignation on September 7.
“Unfortunately, the inevitability of having no qualified officers at the current pay rate and no police clerk able to assist in the administration side of running this department, I feel it would be impossible to do the job at the best of my abilities,” he said.
City officials are scrambling to fill the vacancies and get the department back in action.
“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 told KY3.
City officials, including the mayor, were disappointed with the officer’s short notice.
“It is unfortunate these officers have decided to leave the city at this time. This was unexpected, and the short notice is disappointing,” City officials told Ozarks First in a statement.
Kimberling City Mayor Bob Fritz was surprised by the resignations.
“I didn’t know there were that many openings in Branson West because we didn’t see an advertisement for police,” he said.
“We’re looking for officers, we’re looking for a new police chief and I think we’ll be fine,” Fritz added.
Until the department is fully staffed again, the Stone County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Branson West will respond to all emergency calls.
According to a recent study by the Police Executive Research Forum, 2020-21 has seen a 45% increase in the retirement rate and a nearly 20% increase in resignations from officers compared to the previous year.