Garden City, Missouri’s mayor and city council ordered the police chief to lay off every employee in the police department last Wednesday.
There is currently no functioning police department in the city after Garden City Police Chief Thomas Alber received his orders, Fox News reported.
“I am the Garden City Police Department. I guess I am an army of one. This is a disregard for the safety of the community, and it came out of nowhere,” said Chief Alber.
— FOX4 News (@fox4kc) November 15, 2018
Laid off Sgt. Richard Williams, who had been at the department since 2001, said, “The chief and I are both retired veterans, so it is really a kick in the teeth there.”
He added, “I absolutely think it is going to be a danger to the community today. We deal with crime here every day.”
A Facebook message was posted on the police department’s page, “At about 10:00 this morning, Chief Alber was notified the City of Garden City was to ‘lay off’ 100% of the Police Department staff effective immediately. No explanation was given nor plans to staff the police department beyond the Chief. No further guidance was given for pending criminal cases or coverage of the city when the Chief is not on duty.”
The sheriff’s department said they knew nothing about this and were given no warning, according to Blue Lives Matter.
Cass County Sheriff’s Captain Mitch Phillips said, “We were caught off guard. Myself and another captain were together when we got a message about the Facebook post. Next thing, we were getting a call from the sheriff [Jeff Weber] asking us what we knew.”
Residents want answers and think the decision should’ve been left to a public vote, not a closed-door meeting. City Hall was closed up, and the City Council wasn’t available to speak to the public. The town’s website has even been shut down.
A 41 Action News reporter caught up with Garden City Mayor Daniel Cantrell who said, “We cannot have these officers and a full-blown police department because we simply can’t afford it.”
Garden City is in Cass County, situated 50 miles south of Kansas City with a population of around 1,625 residents. Garden City police handle around 2,800 calls each year with an average response time of two to three minutes.
The police force consisted of seven sworn officers.
It will now be the job of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office to handle Garden City’s emergency calls, their 911 dispatch calls, and to patrol the city. They will increase patrols if necessary.
“The only real difference will be if our nearest deputy is in Harrisonville. It might be a 10- or 15-minute emergency response time,” Captain Phillips said.
We’ve always been the dispatch center for them,” Phillips said, adding that when no Garden City police were available, they would typically respond to emergencies for them.
“We don’t have someone in Garden City 24/7, but many times when they didn’t have someone on duty we usually respond to emergency calls down there anyway,” he explained.
The captain added that this is brand new news to them, so there are no firm plans in place just yet.
“Citizens of Garden City, hang on. You have a chief that cares. You have a sheriff and his staff that care. And hang on,” Alber said.
The next city council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 4 and plenty of residents are planning to attend.
This headline was changed to reflect the accurate nature of the layoffs.