Mo. city that laid off entire PD also suspends chief

Chief Tom Alber has been suspended pending an undisclosed investigation

By Kaitlyn Alanis
The Wichita Eagle

GARDEN CITY, Mo. — A Missouri town is without a police force after the city decided to lay off 100 percent of the department’s staff, according to a Nov. 14 Facebook post by the Garden City Police Department.

Then less than a week later, the city held an executive session and “suspended” the last member of the department — the police chief — without pay, according to WDAF. The city said it was a 3-0 vote to suspend the chief by the city’s Board of Alderman, KSHB reported.

Former chief Tom Albers found out about the suspension when he showed up to work on Monday, KMBC reported. The mayor met him to hand over a suspension letter, the station reported.

Garden City Mayor Daniel Cantrell said the chief’s suspension is “pending on an investigation,” WDAF reports. The nature of that investigation was not released.

Albers has been with the department for 18 years, according to KCUR.

While Garden City will not have its own police department or officers patrolling the city, there will still be law enforcement making their presence known, Cantrell said in a statement posted to Facebook. He published the post about seven hours after the police department announced the layoffs on Nov. 14.

“First I’d like to apologize to the citizens of Garden City on behalf of the City of Garden City and the Council for the Chief of Police missinforming the public on Facebook about NO coverage when it is his job to continue to police our City,” Cantrell said before the chief was suspended. “(The department) has always had the backing of the County Sheriff when they are absent or off duty and they have a clear presence even when our officers are on duty.”

Last week the city requested “additional patrol” from the sheriff’s office, Capt. Kevin Tieman with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office said, according to KCUR.

Cantrell told KCTV that the town “is broke” and had budgeted $200,000 for police, but it can no longer afford that. The department had seven “sworn officers,” according to its website.

“We in the city are sad that this is what it is come to due to the budget of this city. We simply can no longer continue to travel down this road. This is something I as Mayor and this Council inherited,” Cantrell posted. “This Council has unanimously voted on this layoff being in the best interest of this city .... For many years the city police department has been operating over budget.”

Cantrell said the sheriff’s office will “answer to the 9-1-1 calls and make their presence known otherwise. The same as they have always done.”

However, Albers said he does not believe that will be enough to keep Garden City safe, according to KCUR. Garden City has about 1,600 residents, and Cass County has about 103,000.

There is “definitely a longer response time,” he told the station, “and I feel it puts the citizens in danger.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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