An ongoing fight over the future of Ferrelview, Mo.’s police department finally became too much for some of the town’s residents watching a special meeting of the Ferrelview Board of Trustees on Thursday night.
“All of this animosity has got to stop,” resident Judy Chaney said from the audience. “We are adults.”
The board called the special meeting to deal with financial shortfalls in this small town just north of Kansas City that is trying to restore calm as its future as an incorporated town is in peril.
The police department has been a flashpoint as a divided board has been shutting down the small department but meeting resistance from Police Chief Daniel Clayton and from within the board.
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Chaney was one of a dozen residents who came to the small City Hall meeting room, most of them in support of the chief.
The board worked its way through other issues in reducing its police services — planning to add security cameras, debating where to keep its police car and setting reduced hours for Clayton.
But Chaney, in the audience, was confused about one item that got postponed, acting on a 10-day notice the board had given Clayton.
“A 10-day notice for what?” Chaney asked.
The police chief, standing near her, explained, “She (board chairwoman Theresa Wilson) wants to terminate my position.”
“No!” Chaney said. “No, no. I do not want my police chief terminated.”
Many residents in this town of 450 people have been arguing over the role of Clayton for much of the two years he has been chief. Some say he has been an aggressive law enforcement officer, sometimes writing tickets to the point of harassment. Others say he has been fair patrolling the town and has helped reduce crime.
The rancor has been difficult, Wilson conceded during Thursday’s meeting.
“There’s a nightmare going on in this town,” she said, “and we’re trying to put it to bed.”
The plan for Thursday’s meeting originally included discussing the 10-day notice, but the board extended that notice to 30 days.
Though three of the five board members have said they want Clayton’s position eliminated — Wilson, Russell Wilson and Melvin Rhodes — under Missouri law, they need one more vote to remove him.
The law requires a two-thirds majority to remove a chief law enforcement officer, and both of the other trustees — Phil Gilliam and Diedre Carr — are supporting Clayton.
The board has dismantled the police department around Clayton. It no longer employs two part-time officers, and Clayton’s schedule has been reduced to 20 hours part-time a week.
City officials have been meeting with the Platte County sheriff’s office to negotiate law enforcement protection. Three county deputies provided security at the meeting Thursday night, anticipating that emotions could run high.
Theresa Wilson raised a budget item to begin paying a deputy to serve at future meetings, but Carr was dismayed to hear that Ferrelview would need to pay $30 an hour for the deputies, “but we’re paying that man (she pointed at Clayton) $15.”
Resident Tina Jackson pleaded for calm while hinting at a fear of the community becoming unincorporated.
“I’m just really sad,” she said. “Because this is a great little town. … If this town doesn’t cooperate and try to do what’s best for the town, something you might not know right now could happen to this town that might be worse than what it is now.”