- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

VERDEN, Okla. (AP) - Leaders of an Oklahoma town have called a special meeting to discuss how to keep their community safe after voting to fire their two full-time police officers.

The Board of Trustees in Verden said it couldn’t comment on personnel matters after deciding Tuesday to fire Chief Eric Buehre and officer Mark Monterroso. The special meeting to discuss hiring new officers is scheduled for Friday night.

Buehre said that he didn’t know why an item had been on the board’s agenda to terminate them.

Monterosso said that issues have been building between police and Mayor Ron Heavin since February. Most recently, the mayor had ordered the police chief to leave his patrol car at work, causing him to stop responding to any overnight calls.

“We were slowly getting our hands tied behind our backs to where we could hardly do our job,” Monterroso said.

A message seeking comment from Heavin was left by KOCO-TV.

A part-time reserve officer remains on payroll but he can’t be on duty for a chief-less department.

Grady County Sheriff Jim Weir said his deputies will do their best to respond to calls in Verden. Weir said that it could take 30 minutes or longer for a deputy to reach Verden, depending on their location at the time for a service call.

Residents say they’re upset over the decision to terminate the officers, who they thought served the town well.

“We’re in a total area of confusion,” said Lonnie Norris, a resident and former vice mayor. “Everybody is mad, irritated.”

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