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Wood Heights Police Department abruptly disbanded

April 25, 2018 – With apparently no forewarning from Wood Heights Mayor Robert Pettegrew, or the Wood Heights Board of Aldermen, the Wood Heights Police Department was told it was disbanded on April 18. The news came after the April 16 4-0 vote that may have come from “behind closed doors,” according to Wood Heights Police Chief Jared Sartin.

“Things have been less than cooperative between the mayor and myself,” Sartin said. Ultimately, though, Sartin believes the disbandment has less to do with the personal feelings between the mayor and him, and more to do with finances, even though the department has come under budget.

“Their fiscal responsibility is lacking,” Sartin said of the city. He added that the total city budget is $650,000, while the total budget allocated to maintaining the police force is $58,000. In addition, the Wood Heights Police Department brings in around $45,000 annually in court costs.

Sartin added that just minutes before Wood Heights voted to disband the police department for fiscal reasons, they approved a $4,700 expenditure to replace garage doors at City Hall that, while old, are functional. He believes that points to a larger picture of fiscal irresponsibility.

Mayor Robert Pettegrew declined to give a statement to The Standard at this time, saying that Wood Heights is crafting a letter which they will release as their official statement to the citizens of Wood Heights on Monday, May 1.

“We will speak to the matter at that point,” Pettegrew stated.

The Wood Heights Police Department, which employs a total of five officers, put a statement on their Facebook page, addressing the rumors that had already cropped up around the disbandment.

“First, on April 16th in closed session discussion behind closed doors, without any notification given to myself, or mention of the topic previously, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen voted 4-0 to disband (shut down) the Wood Heights Police Department and subsequently the Wood Heights Municipal Court effective May 18th, 2018 citing ‘city budget problems and shortfalls,’” the statement read in part. The post went on to add that none of the officers, including Sartin, agree with the decision, nor was their input requested.

“For the 5th year in a row (all that I’ve been Chief) the police department will be UNDER budget, meaning we haven’t spent our total budget monies. By preliminary projections, we will be around 6-8 thousand under budget,” the statement added.

According to Sartin, all officers will remain on staff until May 18. After that, Wood Heights will fall under the jurisdiction of the Ray County Sheriff’s Department.

Sartin is sorry to leave his position as Wood Heights Police Chief, saying the department has done a lot of good for the community, and that he will  miss serving it.

“Thanks for all the kind words and well wishes,” he said to the citizens of Wood Heights. “I appreciate the community support.”

By Samantha Kilgore •

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2 Responses to Wood Heights Police Department abruptly disbanded

  1. charlene brunner Reply

    April 25, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Glad I don’t live in Wood Heights. Probably ought to check that mayor’s finances. He sounds like a real jerk and a conniving bas—-. He’s asking for trouble. He truly needs to grow up and think of the city and not getting back at someone. Actually the first thing that should have been done is lower the mayor’s salary.

  2. Daniel S Hernandez Reply

    April 25, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    I know Mayor Pettigrew and i have very serious doughts that he would do anything to hurt Wood Heights. The cities problems started many years back with previous administrations. The Mayor has many problems to deal with that involes a poorly planned infrastructure that is showing its age. I don’t live in Wood Heights any longer but having 5 officers, for a small city,seems excessive to me. It is a good city and peaceful so why wouldn’t you put the money to build a stronger infrastructure. Comparing a new garage door to paying for officers shows what the true priorities are and should be. Wood Heights was always a safe place to live and the few times that 911 was called it was the Sheriffs that showed up. Keep up the good work Mayor.

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