The entire police force quit in Chelsea and people are speaking out. Officers said they learned about a plan to fire the chief and instead of waiting to get fired, they pulled the trigger and quit.
While neighbors are upset, many said they stand behind the police department and feel the officers were run out of town by the city’s government.
There are new locks on the Chelsea Police Department doors, and the patrol cars sit empty in the parking lot because there are no full-time officers to get behind the wheel.
Resident Mark Reinert said, "We have police officers out of control that pull people over for any petty thing they can pull you over for."
The officers claim town officials planned to fire the chief, so they quit before that could happen.
One officer's resignation letter said:
"To Kenny Weast and the Chelsea Town Board of Trustees:
"This letter is to inform you of my immediate resignation as a Chelsea Police Officer. I have enjoyed serving and protecting the city of Chelsea for the past seven years. I had hoped to continue being a police officer here, but due to lack of leadership from the city administrator and the majority of the Town Board of Trustees, catering to a few select citizens of Chelsea, I must resign.
"I became a police officer to try and make Chelsea a safer and more enjoyable place for citizens to live and work. Chelsea is my home town. I have lived here over 57 years. I graduated from Chelsea High School. I taught at Chelsea High School for 14 years. I retired from Chelsea Public Schools. I am a Chelsea Dragon! I am as proud of Chelsea as the next person.
"The good ole boy system and trying to let a few people dictate how the city is ran, has been going on for as long as I can remember. I really thought that someday it would change.
"Our department has been under increasing pressure, not to enforce the law, but to play politics and let a few certain people break the law, that feel they are "ABOVE THE LAW!"
"I can't work as a Chelsea police officer under these conditions."
Larry G. Copeland Sr.
Former Chelsea Police Officer
"I feel sorry for them, I feel they thought they did what was right in their hearts to save the town and save themselves," Jarrod Kizer said.
The battle between town leaders and law enforcement started months ago, following a traffic stop where an officer pulled over local businessman Brian Hagard for DUI, but Town Administrator Weast tried to get him out of it.
Neighbor Chris Kralicek said, "If he was to hit someone while drinking and driving is the city councilman going to take care of that too?"
Weast released a statement in response to the resignation, saying:
"I want the wonderful residents and business owners of the Town of Chelsea to rest assured that our community will continue to have the protection and service that they deserve by law enforcement. I asked, and was granted coverage by Rogers County Sheriff’s Office after the resignation of Police Chief Bohl. At an emergency meeting called tonight by the Town Board of Trustees, they selected an interim chief to resume the Chelsea Police Department.
"While there have been many erroneous reports and rumors, our citizen's protection, safety, and trust has and always be priority. I also want to say I greatly appreciate the many Chelsea reserves and Sheriff Walton and his deputies for their help."
Neighbors believe the town's safety was already in good hands.
"I think the city government ought to be replaced, every one of them," Kralicek said.
Reinert said, "I'm glad they are gone. I'm not missing them."
The interim chief refused to talk.
Until more officers are hired, Roger's County Sheriff's Deputies will respond to calls.