Police department in Western Mass. town resigns en masse
The entire police department in Blandford, a small town in Western Massachusetts, resigned Monday, leaving instructions for residents on what to do in the event of an emergency on its Facebook page.
“Attention Blandford residents: If you have a police, fire or medical emergency, please continue to call 911 as you normally would,” the post read. “The entire Blandford Police Department resigned this evening, effective immediately.”
The chair of the town’s board of selectmen, Cara Letendre, confirmed Monday night that the town’s three officers and interim police chief, Roberta Sarnacki, had resigned earlier in the day.
“Fortunately the sheriff’s office and State Police have reached out to make sure our town has coverage,” she said, noting that the “vast majority of calls are routed to State Police anyway.”
“They’re a small, part-time police department,” said State Police Sergeant George Beautre of the barracks in nearby Russell. “That they referred calls to us is not the least bit unusual.”
Letendre said the board of selectmen also reached out to surrounding communities for assistance.
“I’m disappointed, to say the least, but I have no concerns about the safety of our residents because we’re covered, as we always are,” she said.
In a statement Monday, Letendre praised Sarnacki’s work over the past two months, but said she was dismayed that the interim chief had led the walkout.
“It is unfortunate that she led this officer walkout as she would have been considered as one of our candidates for [the] acting chief position as we pursue the future opportunities with our police force,” Letendre wrote.
According to WWLP 22 News, Sarnacki and the three police officers resigned “after multiple complaints to the town about unsafe working conditions.”
Sarnacki said that Blandford officers “have been working with cruisers that don’t work, bulletproof vests that are not fitted to them or might be expired, poor radio communications, inadequate staffing and improper wages,” the news outlet reported.
Sarnacki could not be reached for comment Monday.