GARDEN CITY, Mo. — With the Garden City, Missouri Police Department entirely wiped out due to layoffs and a suspension over the past week, former officers joined the community for a special Thanksgiving gathering on Tuesday night.
Following a closed session with city leaders last week, the city’s seven officers were laid off as a result of budget cuts.
On Monday, leaders placed the police chief on indefinite suspension without pay.
The chief, who was the last remaining member of the department, told 41 Action News that no reason was given for his suspension.
Following the turbulent past week, former Police Chief Thomas Alber said the Thanksgiving gathering served as a special chance for the officers to come together.
Special Thanksgiving gathering tonight in Garden City (MO).
Pastor recognizes police officers laid off last week pic.twitter.com/f8yKBhhsDO
— Tom Dempsey (@KCTomDempsey) November 20, 2018
“We’ve all been floored by the situation we’re in but we’re really grateful to be here,” said Alber, who was with the city’s police department for 18 years. “The community has really reached out this evening and this is great to join one last time.”
The officers joined other community members at the Training Center Christian School for the event.
Aside from a Thanksgiving feast, the officers also received food donations for the holiday.
“It’s great to be able to get together and sit down in a casual environment and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner,” said Alber. “We’ll keep driving forward. I’ve got a supportive family and a lot of supportive friends. We’ll get through it.”
Before the event began on Tuesday night, 41 Action News spoke with Mayor Daniel Cantrell about the police layoffs.
Cantrell continued to say the layoffs were a tough decision and came as a result of budget cuts in the city.
“This city is broke and has been for a long time,” he said. “This city has got to do what it’s got to do to get its head above water again.”
Cantrell said the area had to spend tax money elsewhere, including on expensive upkeep of the city’s pool, which he said has cost the city over $1 million.
“We’re just upside down right now on things and we’re trying to get ourselves righted again,” he said. “We’re going to do what we’ve got to do to save our city.”
Following the police department layoffs, the Case County Sheriff’s Office is now handling public safety in Garden City.
Garden City is home to around 1,600 residents.