- Associated Press - Friday, July 17, 2015

CHELSEA, Okla. (AP) - Officials say a northeastern Oklahoma town is without a working police force after the chief and its patrol officers resigned amid tension stemming from a local businessman’s arrest earlier this year.

The department previously consisted of four full-time officers, including Chief Chris Bohl who resigned this week, and two part-time patrolmen, the Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1GqMeI3 ) reported. The town of Chelsea has around 2,000 residents.

“There was a meeting held between a couple of councilmen, city manager and the reserves to see if the reserves planned to stay,” Chelsea Police Department Records Clerk Val Donna said. “Rogers County (sheriff’s deputies) are watching the town and taking criminal reports until the department can be shored up.”

The departure of Chelsea’s officers comes after the Town Board voted 3-1 in May to keep Town Administrator Kenny Weast.

Assistant Police Chief Travis Hogan, who left around two weeks ago, claimed that Weast had intervened during a March 3 traffic stop involving a local construction company owner. The board also voted 3-1 to allow officer Nicholas Pappe who arrested the businessman on a drunken driving complaint to stay on at the department.

The businessman admitted drinking two beers before driving, according to an arrest report. The businessman told Pappe that Weast would take him, the vehicle and two passengers home from the scene of the traffic stop.

Officers previously said Pappe refused to allow Weast to take the businessman home.

Weast hasn’t commented on the traffic stop issue. But in a Wednesday statement he said that the Sheriff’s Office will help patrol the town.

“While there have been many erroneous reports and rumors, our citizens’ protection, safety and trust has and always will be (our) priority,” Weast said.

Donna said that Terry Gorham, one of seven remaining reserve officers, was appointed as interim police chief during an emergency meeting Wednesday.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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