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Entire MA police force resigns over safety concerns

Blandford Police department vehicle. (Blanford Police/ Facebook)
August 01, 2018

On Monday, officers of the Blandford, Massachusetts police department walked off the job — all four of them.

Interim Police Chief Roberta Sarnacki and Officers Chris Anciello, Gage Kerlik, and Krysten Scapin announced their resignation, effective immediately, for inadequate working conditions that have been ongoing.

They said that it is dangerous to be an officer in Blandford, Mass Live reported.

The officers said that bulletproof vests are expired and fit poorly, radios don’t work in many parts of town, the police cars are in poor shape, and they are grossly understaffed.

In a statement, the officers said: “For some time we have been dealing with unsafe working conditions. Policing is inherently dangerous, however it has been made much (more) so by our town’s administration.”

Blandford is now working with adjacent departments and the Massachusetts State Police in the Russell barracks to make sure residents are safe. Blandford’s population is approximately 1,200.

State troopers will respond to 911 calls, and Hampden Sheriff Nicholas Cocchi announced late Monday he will send 6 deputy sheriffs in marked cruisers to Blandford immediately to provide a “public safety presence to a Hampden County town in need.”

Cocchi said: “I cannot allow one of our communities to have the appearance that the town will go unprotected. My team will stay in place throughout the night and we will reassess with the town of Blandford’s select board on their needs in the morning.”

The officers’ resignation letter stated: “To summarize, the town is asking officers to patrol in cars that have no a/c (air conditioning), no snow tires, and no four-wheel drive … They are asking us to do this with no radio coverage, no real backup if needed, and all for $14 or $15 an hour. Would you put your lives on the line in these conditions? We regret leaving the town without a town police force, but we have no choice given the situation we face. We refuse to put our lives on the line anymore for a town that seemingly cares so little about us.”

The officers said they have been using their own vehicles to answer calls instead of the 2010 Crown Victoria that has no air conditioning, overheats often, and has a seat permanently fixed in the recline position.

Officers claim since there is limited cell phone service, dispatch radios often don’t work, making it impossible to call for backup or even to communicate effectively.

They also said that the department’s bulletproof vests are second-hand items and do not fit correctly, rendering them ineffective.