The entire four-member police department of a small western Massachusetts town has resigned, citing poor equipment and unsafe working conditions, the AP reports. Interim Police Chief Roberta Sarnacki and three officers submitted their resignations in a letter to Blandford officials on Monday, effective immediately. The officers said the town's police cruisers are in such bad shape they often have to answer calls in their personal vehicles. They said their police radios don't work in some parts of town and their poorly fitting bulletproof vests are beyond expiration dates. They also cited inadequate staffing and poor pay, and said the department has been neglected as Blandford, which has a population of about 1,200, considers merging the department with the nearby Chester PD. "We refuse to put our lives on the line anymore for a town that seemingly cares so little about us," the letter reads, per CNN.
Massachusetts State Police said in a statement Tuesday that state police "will assume any additional duties required in the wake of the resignations of local officers," noting that all 911 calls from Blandford for police assistance are being routed to troopers in Russell, a town about five miles away. The Blandford PD Facebook page advised residents to continue calling 911 as usual if needed or to contact the Russell State Police Barracks for non-emergency police services. The Hampden County Sheriff also told 22 News that six deputies from his office were assigned to Blandford for Monday night and Tuesday morning. The officers on the Blandford force said they regret leaving the town without coverage, but have no other choice because their own safety has been put at risk. The Blandford selectwoman says police did not address their concerns with elected officials, but the letter says multiple complaints had been made to officials. (Read more police department stories.)