Each member of a small Massachusetts police department quit the force on Monday, reportedly blaming “unsafe working conditions,” among other causes.
All four officers in the Blanford Police Department, including Interim Police Chief Roberta Sarnacki, signed a statement, obtained by Massachusetts-based newspaperThe Republican, about the resignation.
Noting that the job of a police officer “is inherently dangerous,” the officers wrote that the role “has been made much (more) so by our town’s administration.”
Among the complaints listed in the letter were ill-fitting bulletproof vests with overdue expiration dates, malfunctioning police radios and occassionally having to drive their own vehicles in order to respond to situations due to the inadequacy of patrol cars.
“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?” the statement said.
In a Facebook post on Monday, the police department told residents to contact the Russell State Police Barracks for non-emergencies and 911, as normal, for emergencies.
“The entire Blandford Police Department resigned this evening, effective immediately,” the post said.
State police in a Facebook post said they regularly provide police services to Blandford and told local officials that they would continue to do so – and more if necessary – following the Blandford department’s resignation.
The resignation comes amid discussions of a change in the department.
The Blandford Police Department has reportedly been discussing combining police units with those in Chester, Massachussetts.
“We have had multiple public meetings with our police force and have offered them the opportunity to engage and provide their opinions for the direction of the force," a statement from The Board of Selectmen said, according to the outlet.
The statement reportedly went on to commend Sarnacki for her job performance as of late, adding that “it is unfortunate that she led this officer walk out as she would have been considered as one of our candidates for Acting Chief position as we pursue the future opportunities with our police force.”
However, the police officers offered a different perspective, arguing that board members have not considered their suggestions.
“We regret leaving the town without a town police force, but we have no choice given the situation we face,” the officers’ statement said. “We refuse to put our lives on the line anymore for a town that seemingly cares so little about us.”