ORRICK, Mo. (KSHB) — The town of Orrick, Missouri, is currently without a police department after all their officers walked out on the job.
Orrick's city attorney, Kevin Baldwin, confirmed that the police chief, along with all other officers quit, but didn’t provide a reason.
The city said it’s been a month without them and the town's police department is currently not operating.
“The chief resigned, as did the other full-time officer and the part-time officers as well. No notice was given or complaints lodged with the Board or Mayor by any officer before this action was undertaken," the city said in a statement. "It was sudden, without warning, and did not allow for an orderly transition. However, such events are not unusual in small-town Missouri."
For residents, it's alarming.
“It’s concerning, we’ve always had an officer, we’ve always had a police department,” Melody Blyth, who lives in Orrick, said.
The news was a surprise to the small town of nearly 900 people.
The City of Orrick said the officers gave no notice and there were no complaints previously filed by the officers.
Blyth said she now feels unprotected.
“We’ve got people who have sheds being broken into, tools being stolen, breaking into vehicles, we have drugs in this community, who’s going to protect us?” she said.
Blyth said she’s had to keep a closer eye on her property and decided to get surveillance cameras.
“We are out here alone,” she said. “There’s not a feeling of safety. I know if I had to do something I would do what I have to do to protect myself, bottom line.”
The City of Orrick said that because the officers left without warning, it didn’t allow for a smooth transition.
In the meantime, it’s contracted with the Ray County Sheriff’s Office to provide coverage for 40 hours a week.
"The City is working closely with the Ray County Sheriff’s Dept. to provide coverage for the City, and those Deputies who patrol outside of the normal duties will be compensated by the City for their time spent patrolling Orrick," the city said in a statement. "They will, of course, have the power to enforce not only City Ordinance violations but State and County violations as well."
Ray County Sheriff Scott Childers promised to support the town, enforce city laws and ensure safety.
The office is currently answering 911 calls, but is awaiting a contract approval from the Ray County Prosecutor’s Office so deputies can consistently patrol the town.
The sheriff said he submitted the contract in early November.
KSHB 41 did not hear back from the prosecutor’s office about a timeline for the contract.
Those in town said response times are a concern.
“Twenty minutes? You can be dead, 20 minutes you can have your house broken into, 20 minutes is a long time,” Blyth said.
Childers said that when a Ray County deputy can be assigned to Orrick, the response times will be shorter.
“When there’s an off-duty deputy they will be assigned in town,” Childers said. “Response will be 90 seconds because that’s how long it takes to drive from one end of the town to the other.”
He said the town will have one sheriff’s deputy at a time per shift.
“We just don’t want people knowing when we are going to be there to cut down on the crime that's going on," he said.
However, Orrick said it also relies on citizens to keep crime in check.
"Like any small towns, the very best policing is done by our citizens who remain forever vigilant in looking out for their friends, neighbors and community. We have many retirees who often note strange occurrences and/or suspicious activity and any calls to 911 will be answered by the Ray County Sheriff’s Department," the city said in a statement. "The City, its Mayor, and Board of Aldermen are confident that there will be no significant lapse in coverage and/or any increase in crime that will not be charged and/or fully prosecuted – as it has been in the past.”
The city also said it plans to restructure its police department and will work with other law enforcement agencies and professionals to find new officers after the new year.