KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. — A majority of the police department in Knightstown has resigned, according to the Henry County Office of Emergency Management. Some members of the town council addressed the resignations during a packed meeting on Thursday night.
Before the meeting, the town told CBS4 they wanted to help people understand the “misinformation that has been passed around.” Two former officers sat down with us beforehand to share why they decided to resign.
“It seems like there is no support for the department, no town council backbone for us,” said Curtis Northern, a former Knightstown reserve officer.
Northern said he turned in his resignation letter last week. Some of his reasons for resigning can be linked to the town’s decision to place police chief Chris Newkirk on administrative leave in October.
Back then we found Newkirk picking up trash on the side of the road. He was back on the job in November. Northern claimed it is still not clear to them why the town placed him on leave.
“People wanted answers then,” he said. “I don’t know if everybody got the full answer that they wanted per se.”
Some of the officers who resigned explained they did not like how the town handled that situation.
“They were saying it was for fitness for duty but it was more punitive to me because they changed the locks in his office they went into his computer and locked him out of his computer,” said David Carnes, a former part-time police officer in Knightstown.
It made Carnes turn in his badge even earlier than Northern. Carnes said he quit back in January.
Chief Newkirk is on medical leave for an injury and an interim chief is in his place for now. A few officers worry the position will not be there for Newkirk when he can return to work.
“This was planned for him to be the chief and for Chief Newkirk to be dismissed,” said Northern.
As of Thursday, the town council said there are eight officers working for the police department including Chief Newkirk and the interim chief.
Community members shared their concerns at a meeting in Knightstown Thursday night. Several residents wanted to find out why so many officers they said are well-respected in the town decided to quit. So far, we know at least 10 officers in Knightstown have resigned.
At the beginning of the meeting, a couple council members made comments about the resignations. They wanted to assure the public that Knightstown still has a police department and said no one has been fired or suspended. They said they want to bring accountability and transparency to the police department.
Some in the community felt they did not get many answers during the meeting. During a comment section, the attorney for the town said the public could not ask any questions to the council members.
“It seems like Chief Newkirk since he has been here he has been under fire from the town board from time and time again for one thing or another. It’s just getting frustrating. We have good officers. These guys, this is their livelihood. For them to all leave en masse, there is something wrong,” said Michael Paul, a Knightstown resident.
Dozens of people from the community came to this council meeting, including officers who resigned. Some of those officers spoke during public comment and said they believe the president of the town council does not like the police department.
Chief Newkirk is now on medical leave and some former officers disapprove of the person the town selected to be interim chief.
“They did not like Chief Newkirk or the interim chief Elmer New for some reason. They decide to put someone in with much less time, experience, education, who is not qualified to run the department but he happens to be friends with a member of the city council,” said Kerry O’Haver, a former reserve officer in Knightstown.
On Thursday afternoon, the town claimed they could not share too many details with CBS4 because of advice from legal counsel.