Entire Police Department in Massachusetts Town Resigns

Unsafe working conditions and low pay are among the reasons Blandford no longer has a police department.

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The entire Blandford Police Department resigned Monday after multiple complaints to the town about unsafe working conditions, reports 22 News WWLP. Among the reasons cited by Interim Police Chief Roberta Sarnacki is cruisers that don't work, expired bulletproof vests, poor radio communications, inadequate staffing, and improper wages. 

The newest, best cruiser is a 2010 Ford Crown Victoria, purchased from the Otis Police Department on Cape Cod. It overheats at times, has no air conditioning, and the driver's seat is stuck in an excessively reclined position. If this is the best cruiser, one can only imagine how much worse off the other cars are.

As the great Elwood Blues says, "You can't outrun a Motorola," but in Blandford, the police radios are another huge problem. They don't work across most of the town, making it impossible for officers to call for backup if they get in trouble. I know all too well from personal experience just how important adequate radio communications are in an emergency.

Staffing is another major concern. Aside from Chief Sarnacki, there were just three officers for the entire town, with three openings that the town had not filled. A request to the Blandford select board for new hires was turned down because they wanted to work out the details of a pending merger of Blandford's police department with the nearby town of Chester before hiring anyone.

Finally, police officer wages were a laughably low $14 to $15 per hour. That's less than minimum wage in some places, and the dangerous work that police officers do, including putting their lives on the line, is worth significantly more than that. As a result of these conditions, the entire Blandford Police Department resigned Monday.

"For the past two months, Interim Chief Sarnacki has done a fine job with our police officers and our police department," said Blandford Selectboard Chair Cara Letendre in a statement to 22 News. "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. 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."

But don't go to Blandford thinking you can get away with massive speeding and other lawless abandon. As with other Massachusetts towns lacking their own police forces, the State Police have been assigned to take over patrolling the town of Blandford. Residents have been instructed to call 911 for emergency services and referred to the Russell State Police Barracks for other non-emergency police services.

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