The Town Council of the small town of Bunker Hill, Indiana, home to 888 residents, is likely wishing they had "do-over" this morning after constant budget cuts and alleged "illegal, unethical, and immoral" requests from council members resulted in the entire police force quitting. Per the Fox 59 affiliate in Indianapolis, the Bunker Hill town Marshall and his 4 deputies all walked off the job earlier this week and have no intention of returning.
An entire Indiana town has no police officers after every single one walked off the job. The officers blame the Bunker Hill Town Council for the situation.
Thomison served as town marshal for four years until Monday night when he and four other officers handed over resignation letters to the council, telling them they have had enough.
“They would not communicate with us or the officers and they kept scaling back,” said Thomison.
In their resignation letters, the officers accuse council members of asking them to “do illegal, unethical, and immoral things.” They cited examples like asking police to run background checks on other town councilors to find their criminal history. The officers also claim they were threatened when they said no.
Another issue they brought up in the letter was their safety. The officers say they were all forced to share one set of body armor, putting their lives on the line while they were out making arrests and serving warrants.
“I did not want to send someone out there with bad body armor so I would take mine off and provide it to the other officers. I told them we have to provide this, there is an IC code that explains that and says that the town has to provide that body armor,” said Thomison.
Meanwhile the Bunker Hill Town Council offered the following statement to residents saying that disagreements with the police force were "caused by the lack of funding available to the town" but that council members had never asked officers to "be involved in any illegal, unethical or immoral actions." Well, clearly it seems like someone is stretching the truth slightly.
Like most small towns, there have been from time to time, disagreements in the policy making process between the town council and other town departments. The current town council as well as prior councils have, on occasion, had disagreements with Mr. Thomison over a number of things. These disagreements have primarily been caused by the lack of funding available to the town to invest in the police department. However, the council denies that it has failed to provide body armor for the marshal or reserve deputies. The council is well aware of Indiana law on the topic and has complied with it fully. Further, the council absolutely denies that it has ever asked Mr. Thomison or any of the reserve deputies to be involved in any illegal, unethical or immoral actions.
The council admits that it had made a number of cuts to the police department over the last few years. This was a decision the town made due to a lack of funding. Bunker Hill is diligently working to solve this problem for the coming year. The cuts made to the police department were not made with the intention of jeopardizing the safety of any of the town's police officers. Over the last few years, the Council has made attempts to find additional money for the department. Mr. Thomison was instrumental in obtaining a large sum of money on behalf of the town. However, he fails to state that the police department received the benefit of a large portion of that funding.
As Mr. Thomison has stated, there is currently a lawsuit pending against the town relating to Indiana's Open Door Law. The council denies that it has violated Indiana's Open Door Law in any manner. However, the council will not comment further on this topic as the litigation is still pending.
The resignation of the entire police force has come as a shock to the council. It has never been the goal to dismantle or otherwise endanger the town police department or officers. The council thanks these officers for their service to the town. Bunker Hill is in the process of obtaining a new marshal and reserve deputies. The council asks for patience from the town residents in this process.
If ever there was a time and a place for some drag racing on public streets...this is it for Bunker Hill residents...enjoy!