This story was updated Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at 8:20 p.m. with more information.
Dan Bilbrey, Ringgold, Georgia’s, chief of police, resigned Monday night after giving an impassioned speech about how his department has constantly been overlooked, underfunded and understaffed during his tenure.
Bilbrey spoke about he how has felt handcuffed as a chief, how his officers have had to go years without proper equipment, old vehicles and how the turnover rate in the department is directly tied to the lack of support from city leaders.
Many officers and deputies stood in the back of Ringgold’s city council chambers as Bilbrey gave his emotional speech in front of the council Monday night.
Bilbrey said funding has been a constant issue in his 10-year tenure as chief. The evidence room has not been finished and officers have had to use the room that does not have a ceiling, finished floors or climate control, meaning it’s freezing in the winter and “scorching” in the summer, Bilbrey said.
He said patrol vehicles have been outdated, officers have had to use their own guns and other equipment and have been continuously turned down for further funding from city officials. He also added that neighboring law enforcement agencies have been generous with their time and resources but the city of Ringgold has rarely been open to return the favor.
Demand has only increased in his almost 10 years as chief and the pressure on he and the department has gotten worse while funding as nearly stayed the same, Bilbrey said.
“Your officers see this,” he said. “Don’t tell your officers you care about them. Show them.”
“In nearly 10 years, the city has purchased roughly two and a half patrol vehicles for the police department,” he said. “This is a problem, and your officers question why the city does not address this issue, as they feel [neither] their safety, nor that of the community, is not taken seriously.”
“This is something that I never envisioned doing,” Bilbrey said moments after addressing the council. “I felt like I had to do it. We have to protect these people that protect our citizens.”
Asked how long he’s thought about resigning, Bilbrey said, “a long time. A long time.”
A majority of the police present gave hugs to Bilbrey in the hallway after his speech.
Two former Ringgold police officers — Zach Henderson and Chris Witt — both said their experience in an underfunded and underappreciated department was the main reason why they left.
Henderson said the city is losing a great asset and, as a whole, it will take a step backward without Bilbrey.
“Being an officer, knowing that the city is not behind you, and what you do is hard enough, you get frustrated,” Henderson said, adding that he would have never left the police department if Bilbrey had been able to lead and run the department like he wanted to.