Missouri town shutters entire police department

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KMBC KMBC

Garden City’s police department is down to one man. 

According to a post on the Garden City, Missouri, Police Department Facebook page, the mayor and city council have “shuttered their police department.”

Wednesday morning, Chief Thomas Alber walked into city hall and was told the entire staff of the department, seven officers and five volunteers, were being laid off.

“They gave no reason,” Alber said.

Garden City is located about 50 miles south of Kansas City and has a population of around 1,600 people.

"No explanation was given nor plans to staff the police department beyond the chief," the police department said in the Facebook post.

The police department’s website indicates the department has seven sworn officers and five civilian volunteers.

Jamie Arwick had been with the department for four years. Others were nearing the 20-year mark.

“I’ll miss the badge. I’ll miss putting on my gear. I love the people,” Arwick said. “Next week is Thanksgiving, and in a month is Christmas. ‘Hey, by the way, you’re not working anymore.'”

Garden City’s City Hall was closed Wednesday, and no one was there to answers calls.

Mayor Daniel Cantrell briefly answered as he stopped by Wednesday evening.

“Nobody wants to get laid off and I certainly didn’t want to lay anybody off, but we simply have no other choice,” he said. “The city’s got to do what they’ve got to do.”

Cantrell said the decision to lay off the officers boiled down to budget issues. Officers for the department made an average salary of $25,000 a year according to its annual report.

“What hurts the most is this wanton disregard for the public safety of the community,” Alber said.

He added he respects the Cass County sheriff’s office, but the city handled nearly 2,000 calls in 2017 with a 3 minute or less response time.

“It would be impossible for them to respond in that time frame,” Arwick said.

Cantrell said he felt citizens were safe despite the department’s claims.

“I don’t care what he says,” Cantrell said of Alber. “I know what is true. We have relied on the county to cover us for many years and they’ve done a fantastic job.”

The decision was made in a closed session Tuesday night without notice.

“In my 30 years of law enforcement, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Alber said.

“As ugly as it is and as awful as it is, I have to do what is best for this city,” Cantrell said.

Now Arwick and the rest of the department are packing up gear and looking for work.

“A chapter closed,” Arwick said. “Perhaps another one will open.”

The city also cut its city administrator job Tuesday night.