The entire police force of the small Oklahoma community of Chelsea is resigning amongst allegations city officials tried to get an influential citizen out of an arrest.
The controversy first erupted in March when a Chelsea police officer arrested top area businessman, Brian Haggard, under suspicion of DUI. Other city officials were then accused of trying to get him off the hook.
Things came to a head during a town meeting in May when town trustees voted to keep the town administrator, Kenny Weast, despite protests from police.
They said Weast tried to stop the arrest of Haggard, his friend, when the officer pulled him over.
Backlash ensued from many in the community because police said they did their job instead of following an unspoken rule “of selective enforcement.”
Police Chief Chris Bohl and three other officers resigned Wednesday.
“I feel like the weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I’m feeling good. It was for the best,” Bohl said.
Assistant Police Chief Travis Hogan resigned as well, two weeks ago. He said tension in the department only got worse after the fallout from the March arrest.
“I think we should uphold the law, and I think the cop was doing a good when he was following the law,” said longtime resident Leota Mills.
This week the town trustees named reserve officer Terry Gorham as interim police chief. Gorham says the department still has two part-time officers as well as four other reserves currently on the job.
Weast said he has also asked the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office to step in and provide additional patrols.
He wrote in a statement, “I want our residents and business owners of the Town of Chelsea to rest assured that our community will continue to have the protection and service that they deserve by law enforcement.”