ELMWOOD PLACE, Ohio — The Elmwood Place Police Department is operating with only two full-time officers after Mayor Joseph Anneken confirmed Chief Eric Bartlet's last day was April 14 and another officer quit before their shift the next day.
Elmwood Place's two remaining officers spoke about their concerns over scanners.
"Are we allowed to pull people over," one officer asked.
“You can," the other officer responded. "Here’s the issue: without a chief, like I said earlier, if somebody jumps out of a car in a traffic stop, charges you with a rifle and you end up putting them down, it’s just a — it’s not a good scenario. But it’s, basically, we’re on our own. I’m not your boss. You’re not mine. We don’t have a boss. We have the mayor, but we don’t have a chief, don’t even have an interim chief. We’re relying strictly on mutual aid, which, they don’t have to stick their neck out for us. It’s just kind of one of them things, man. Pick and choose your battles wisely.”
In his resignation letter to the village, Bartlet wrote, “I have been offered a position with another employer in which I had to do soul searching and think about my family’s and my future, the future of Elmwood, financials, amongst other things.”
He continued by writing, “The hard truths are staring at us. The desire to enter law enforcement, the evaporation of the hiring pool, and decision we as a Village have made sustaining a police department almost an impossibility. Departments of which pay substantially into the 80s and 90 thousands are having a tough time. If we do not rethink things and make changes of which need to be made our police department will disappear.”
By Monday, half the force was gone.
“We're going to persevere,” Anneken said. “The neighboring municipalities are tuned in to what's going on. They're willing to pitch in and help out as well as the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department.”
The remaining officers are not part of a Fraternal Order of Police.
“It concerns me a little bit because we border that municipality. And, so, city officers will be working with them and near them as they always do, and it seems to me that that could lead to some disfunction with this agency,” said Cincinnati FOP President Dan Hils. “They’ve got to have somebody that decides whether or not: do we call SWAT, do we call investigators, how do we deal with a citizen complaint? All these things that are just every day for policing.”
By Ohio law, the mayor is now in charge. Anneken said he and local leaders had an emergency meeting Friday evening to discuss next steps. They may appoint an interim chief internally. He said he would like to raise wages and noted a levy on the ballot coming up would help that.