A Missouri city saw its entire police force resign in the span of two weeks after its police chief, sergeant and three officers all quit, citing low pay and being unequipped to do their jobs.
Kimberling City Police Chief Craig Alexander tendered his resignation on August 23, with officers Shaun McCafferty, Rutger House, Caleb McCarty, and Sgt. Aaron Hoeft following suit.
‘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, whose department will overlook policing of the city until the department is fully staffed again, told KY3.
Kimberling City Mayor Fritz called the resignations ‘unexpected and the short notice disappointing.’
The Kimberling City Police Department consisted of six officers. After one member retired in July, the rest began to submit their resignations in August and September
Kimberling Mayor Bob Fritz, left, said he was surprised by the sudden resignations of Sergeant Aaron Hoeft and Chief Craig Alexander. Both officers said they could not do their best under the constraints of Fritz’s administration, citing poor pay and lack of qualified personnel
Alexander, left, will move on from the Kimberling Police Department to the nearby Branson West Police Department. He is pictured with his wife, Marisa
Fritz said that Alexander had spoken to him about the resignation for 45 minutes as he discussed taking a position at the nearby Branson West Police Department to help ‘better himself’ and make a much-needed change in his life.
Alexander had first joined the Kimberling City Police Department in 2002, and was promoted to chief in 2013, Branson Tri Lakes News reported.
The city, with a population of 2,600, is about 250 miles southwest of St. Louis.
‘I tried to remain a servant to the people and the officers I worked with. I always wanted this department to be the best it could be,’ Alexander said. ‘But today is my last day. I am no longer able to do my very best under the current administration, and the citizens deserve the very best.’
Fritz claimed the discussion with Alexander was amicable, but he was surprised by the sudden resignations of the other officers.
He had reached out to Hoeft to ask him to take over as interim chief, but the sergeant later told him that without a police clerk or qualified officers for ‘at this pay rate,’ it would be impossible for Hoeft to do the job to the best of his ability.
Chief Craig Alexander, left, helped put out a dumpster fire with officer Caleb McCarty
The department, pictured in 2016, will lose all its current members in the coming weeks
Fritz, second from the left, said he had no early warning about the back-to-back resignations
In his letter of resignation, McCafferty informed the mayor that he would be joining Alexander at Branson West, and House and McCarty offered no explanation for their resignations, Fritz said.
A sixth member had retired in July and had not been replaced, leaving the department with only five officers.
‘It is unfortunate that the officers had to leave the city at this time. It is all unexpected.
I had no earlier warning that the officers were going to do this. I talked to the officers last week to try to encourage them and see what I could do as mayor. They said nothing.’
Fritz’s political rival and former mayor Jason Hulliung, ultimately blamed Frtiz and his administration for the city’s loss of all its officers at once.
‘The simple fact is when you have that much expertise leaving your community there is a bigger problem. We have an amazing police department that has unbelievable support from the community. For these guys who started their careers, in most cases, in Kimberling City, who have been here for 18 plus years, to leave this job took a really heartfelt decision to make that move,’ Hulliung said.
The officers’ resignations come as cops from all over the US are quit or retiring early in droves.
A recent survey found that there has been a 45% increase in the retirement rate and a nearly 20% increase in resignation from officers in 2020-2021 compared to the previous year, according to NPR.
The number of officers to leave Seattle Police Department has been in free fall since last year, but the trend started in 2015
In Seattle, the city’s police department saw about 250 officers quit since the start of 2020, with another 200 set to lose their jobs because they are refusing the city’s vaccine mandate.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a July conference that the city needed to address this problem urgently.
‘As a city, we cannot continue on this current trajectory of losing police officers.
‘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.’