The city of Kimberling, Missouri is looking for a few good men. Or a few good women. Anyone really, as long as they can qualify for a job as a police officer. That’s because the entire police force resigned recently, including their chief of police. The Mayor of Kimberling, Bob Fritz, was reportedly “caught off guard” by the news. Unfortunately, this leaves Kimberling with no law enforcement of its own. The County Sheriff’s Department can probably help fill the void for a while, but that situation won’t hold indefinitely. One thing to note here, however, is that the city is looking for “a few” cops in a literal sense. The “city” of Kimberling has a total population of barely 2,500 people and it sounds as if they only had a half-dozen or so police to begin with. (The Hill)
An entire Missouri police department, including the police chief and his officers, resigned leaving the city of Kimberling without immediate authority.
Citing problems like an inadequate pay rate and not having the right tools to do the job, the department has local leaders struggling to find replacements, especially when rhetoric against law enforcement is high amongst some, Fox News reported.
“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.
I’m not sure how “off guard” the mayor could have really been upon hearing the news unless he’s just completely out of touch. You don’t have all of your cops resign in a matter of days over something that just cropped up overnight. This had to have been building up for a while now.
But what drove them all out the door? From the descriptions offered, there were two different sets of issues. One was a lack of resources, staffing and funding. The officers complained of low pay, poor benefits, and the lack of a police clerk or dispatcher to support them while on duty.
But at the same time, the departing officers mentioned the negative attitude toward them in the community and at City Hall. There had been public protests against the police in 2020 as we’ve seen in so many larger cities. They were also facing a movement to “defund the police” when they were already operating on a strained budget. We’ve heard these same complaints from large municipal police departments around the country, leading to much higher than normal resignation and early retirement rates. But the problem becomes far more acute when a small-town police force like this one becomes so dejected that they simply all walk out at once.
I would imagine this has been the biggest local news story in Kimberling since it happened. And with everyone knowing the reasons for the resignations, who is going to come along and volunteer to replace them? Anyone desperate enough to take one of those jobs under the conditions described might not be the “best and brightest” that you’re hoping for.
Until we see people becoming fed up enough with rising crime rates and diminished levels of safety that they start voting out the officials who create these conditions, you’ll be seeing more of this. And the more cops we lose, the more freedom the criminals will have to ply their trade. Let’s hope that Kimberling doesn’t turn out to be the canary in a coal mine that sets the stage for this to happen on a much broader scale.