Bel-Ridge Mayor says more than half of the police department is quitting

Bel-Ridge squad car. Credit: KMOV

More than half of the police officers in one St. Louis County town say they are walking off the job.

They say they simply cannot stand the thought of having to work for the new administration elected in on Tuesday night.

A number of them talked with News4 Investigates’ Lauren Trager at the Bel-Ridge department.

“I think the community should be concerned with this situation,” one former officer told News 4. He tendered his resignation on Wednesday.

News 4 spoke with two officers on-camera who wanted to conceal their identity since they're now looking for new jobs.

In all, current Mayor Rachel White she's received notice from 12 of the departments, 20 officers, that they're hanging up the Bel-Ridge badge.

“When I started getting the first one, but when the rest came in, my heart just dropped, it fell,” White said.

But the officers say they have no choice.

“It’s a call, how do I put it, of what's morally right. You don't want to be a part of something like that,” said an officer.

Specifically, the officers say they’re worried that the new administration, elected on Tuesday, will bring back former police chief Gordon Brock.

“We are the good guys out of the situations, but it seems like under the new administration, you'd be fighting for the bad guys, I didn't sign up for that at all,” said the officer.

Brock’s time as chief raised numerous questions, News 4 caught up with him almost a decade ago, over accusations he was deleting arrest records from the state's databases.

In a letter obtained by News 4, in 2016, the mayor of Bel-Ridge had 37 allegations against Brock for "just cause" of his removal and the chief eventually left.

Now, newly elected Alderman Glenn Tope says it's a possibility Brock will be back.

“It may be a possibility that he could have some role, he could have some role, but that has not been discussed yet,” Tope said.

Tope wasn't aware of the officers' resignations.

“They do not want to work for Gordon Brock, what would you say to those officers?” Trager asked. “Well, since that hasn't been determined, I would say they are acting prematurely,” Tope said.

Long-time residents say they're worried about the departure of what they consider good officers.

“When I heard that some of them resigned already, it put a fear in my heart of what are we going to get?” said Rebecca Cogshell.

The officers say they don't want to leave the community they serve but thought it was the best decision for them.

“Someone that is going to ruin my integrity is not one someone I want to work for,” said one of the officers.

Newly elected mayor Willie Fair says he also isn't sure yet if Brock will have a role in the department.

"Until I'm sworn in, I can't make that decision and I haven't," said Fair. "That hadn't even crossed my mind , this is a last minute push by our mayor to try and disrupt our city of Bel-Ridge."

Brock declined to go on camera but said he would be interested in returning to the department to clear his name of what he calls “false” allegations against him.

During a meeting Friday night, current Mayor White and board agreed to a collective bargaining agreement with police officers. City leaders said this agreement should protect them.

"We put several safe guards in place to ensure they are going to be here and they can do their jobs without any threat of intimidation," White said.

Police in Bel-Ridge were not members of a union before now but hope it'll protect their rights.

The current mayor plans to contest the election.

Copyright 2018 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

News 4 Investigates

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