Blandford's entire police force - of 4 - quits, citing equipment, safety

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BLANDFORD — The police chief who was invited to leave her job in Otis earlier this year now has resigned from the Blandford force, along with her three-member force, citing poor equipment and unsafe working conditions.

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 the town, and their poorly fitting bulletproof vests are beyond their expiration dates.

Town officials say emergency calls will be answered by state police. The state police issued a statement on Twitter on Monday, citing continued service and a "strong presence" in Blandford.

The officers on the former Blandford force said they regret leaving the town without local coverage, but have no choice because their own safety has been put at risk.

Sarnacki recently had her contract dropped in Otis, where she served as police chief for nine years. She said plans to sue the town for pushing her out amid a lingering dispute with the Select Board chairman and members of a prominent family in town.
She also has filed a state ethics complaint against Otis' Select Board chairman, and the board, over the same issue.

The Select Board in June voted not to appoint Sarnacki the coming fiscal year, which began July 1, giving her less than a month's notice.

Sarnacki said she believes the move in Otis stemmed from filing charges against a juvenile and the youth's father. The boy was involved in a motorcycle chase with police.

The Berkshire Eagle contributed to this story.


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