KIMBERLING CITY, Mo. — The entire police department of Kimberling City unexpectedly resigned intermittently from Aug. 23 to Sept. 7, leaving the small town with no police department after Sept. 21.
All five members of the department offered a letter of resignation and their two weeks’ notice to Mayor Bob Fritz. The Stone County Sheriff’s office will handle all emergency calls in the city until further notice. Some of the officers took jobs in the Branson West Police department, which will also aid in law enforcement until further notice.
According to Fritz, Kimberling City Police Chief Craig Alexander turned in his resignation on Aug. 23 for another job. Alexander reportedly told Fritz that he was “needing a change” and wanted to better himself. After Alexander resigned, the officers followed shortly after.
Fritz said that the resignations were unexpected and that he was disappointed with the short notice that was given.
“It is unfortunate that the officers had to leave the city at this time,” Fritz told Branson Tri Lake News. “I was really surprised…I had no earlier warning that the officers were going to do this.”
“We need a police department. We have taken the step to ensure our citizens’ safety and protection,” he later said.
Former mayor of Kimberling City Jason Hulliung also weighed in, saying he saw the resignations as indicative of a larger governmental problem and cited a lack of staffing across the city.
“I have a serious issue with my entire police department resigning because the entire police department resigning indicates there is a bigger problem,” Hulliung said in an interview. “Since our current administrator and current mayor have been in office, we have lost two long time employees of the sewer plant that were operators. We had to outsource (the sewer jobs). We lost a 17-year employee from the Public Works Department. We lost our court clerk and now we have lost our entire police department as a result of a mayor and city administrator.”
Fritz asked Sergeant Aaron Hoeft to act as the interim police chief after Alexander resigned, but Hoeft declined the job and afterwards offered his letter of resignation to shed some light on the officers’ concerns.
In his letter, Hoeft said there was a lack of qualified officers at the current pay rate and cited the difficulty of administrative duties due to the lack of a police clerk.
“There is a lot to the job most don’t see and I am not good at explaining it,” Hoeft said in a Facebook post after resigning. “But today is my last day. I am no longer able to do my very best under the current administration.”
In addition to the resignations, the department also lost an officer to retirement in July. Detective Robert Smigiel retired after more than 20 years in the department.
This unexpected turn will undoubtedly leave the approximately 2,600 residents of Kimberling City with many concerns. More information on the situation can be found by calling Kimberling City Hall at (417) 739-4903.