Society

Town Without Police Department After All Officers Quit

| by Sarah Zimmerman

An Indiana town is left scrambling after its entire police department walked off the job in protest of the town council's alleged mismanagement and lack of integrity.

Town Marshal Michael Thomison and his four unpaid reserve deputies all sent in letters of resignation to the Bunker Hill town council on Dec. 12, according to WXIN.

“We have had issues with the town board and there are some activities there where I felt like they were serving their own agenda,” said Thomison. The council allegedly requested confidential information and asked the department to conduct background checks on other board members. Officers say that they were threatened if they refused to comply.

The council additionally declined to take the officers' safety seriously, making all five officers share one set of body armor, according to WXIN. The department felt like they were putting their lives on the line when making arrests or serving warrants.

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“I did not want to send someone out there with bad body armor so I would take mine off and provide it to the other officers. I told [the council] we have to provide this, there is an IC code that explains that and says that the town has to provide that body armor,” said Thomison, who had served as Town Marshal for four years.

The council was "blindsided" by the mass resignations, according to Council President Brock Speer. He told the Kokomo Tribune that the council was left speechless and accepted the resignations with little comment. A special meeting is set for Dec. 19 to begin the hiring process of a new Town Marshall.

Until Bunker Hill is able to find replacement officers, they will reportedly be relying on Miami County Sheriff's Department for protection. 

“At the end of the day, it’s the public that’s going to suffer, not the town board,” said Miami Country Sheriff Tim Miller to the Kokomo Tribune. “It’s an unfortunate situation that the town finds itself in. But we’re going to take care of citizens’ needs in the interim. We will ensure they will have law enforcement present for the needs of the town.”

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Thomison agrees that the town public will feel the brunt of the resignations, but also feels like he's out of options. 

“The community will suffer, but I can’t continue to stay there when the support’s not there for the department or the reserve deputies,” he said. "[T]he longer I stay there, the harder it is to get anything done. It’s time to step away and do something else."

Building Commissioner Bill Gornto also submitted his letter of resignation Dec. 12 over similar complaints.

"Due to the actions of the current town council, I find myself unable to continue in this job," wrote Gornto in his resignation letter. “This means you now have to notify the state building department that you no longer have a valid department."

Town Council Vice President Jim Panther is also stepping down from his position, although he says that his resignation is over personal issues. His resignation will take effect at the end of December.

Sources: Kokomo Tribune, WXIN / Photo credit: Elvert Barnes/Flickr

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