The entire police force in a small town in Blandford, Massachusetts, have quit after complaining of low wages and poor working conditions.
The small town has just 4 police officers, 3 of whom are part-timers.
The interim police chief had cited failing brakes and faulty air conditioning in the police cruisers, ill-fitting bulletproof vests and low wages as some of the reasons for quitting the force.
“We refuse to put our lives on the line anymore for a town that seemingly cares so little about us,” read the statement by Roberta Sarnacki, the interim chief, and three other Police officers that make up the Police force.
An official of the town, Bill Levakis, said that part of the problem was the town’s plan to merge the Police force in Blandford with the nearby town of Chester as a way to cut costs.
“You’ve got to move with the future,” Mr. Levakis said. “We’re just trying to find better ways to use our money.”
Rising costs and smaller tax bases has forced small towns to make some difficult choices including cutting off their police force or merging them with others.
“Small towns are having this discussion around maintaining the most basic functions of local government, police services being one of them,” said Josh Garcia, the acting town administrator for Blandford.
Blandford has gone through a tough time recently with the town forced to close down its elementary school, meaning that it’s almost impossible to lure in a young family, Parts of the town have yet to be connected to broadband internet.
“All small hilltowns understand the fact that the police force is here and there,” said Tammy Mullens, a pet-sitter and dog walker who was taking her grandchild for a stroll near the town offices. “To know what little we had walked out is kind of a shock.”
Ms. Sarnacki, in an interview, stated that the Police force had no choice but to quit, stating; “I think you take a little bit of the town’s identity away if you take the police department away or move it to a different area,”