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Hancock Police object to council member comments

HANCOCK — In an open letter to the members of the Hancock City Council, the City Police Department responded to comments made at the June 17 council meeting regarding defunding the police. The letter also mentioned comments made to, and in, the Daily Mining Gazette.

“Since the council meeting and the comments made, the department members feel no support from our elected city officials,” the letter states. “Instead of a show of support after the comments were made to ‘defund the police,’ we feel like we’ve been largely thrown under the bus with no legitimate reason to look into cutting our funding. There have been no complaints or incidents of police brutality committed by any member of this department. We didn’t hear of any discussion related to cutting funding to any other Hancock City departments, making us feel the Police Department is being unjustly targeted.”

Working directly and continuously with people during the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent events nationwide in which the police profession has been very draining on the members of the department, the letter stated. But the officers continue to serve the community proudly and professionally, without question, just as they’re trained and hired to do.

The letter stated that two or three people called into the council meeting to express their desires to have the police “defunded,” the letter stated.

“Instead of showing support and commitment to the police department,” the letter stated, ” Councilman [Will] Lytle’s comments to review and cut the police budget in an apparent effort to appease these few peoples’ request is very demoralizing to each and every member of this department.”

The letter stated that no officers currently on the force could recall there having been a single report or complaint of police brutality or abuse of power against any member of the department.

“Over the years, the police department budget has already been cut to the bare minimum, struggling to provide 24-hour coverage 365 days a year,” the letter states, “having to rely heavily on part-time officers to fill the gaps.”

The department currently is down to one part-time officer, the letter states, and “as you’re aware by recent requests to add a full-time officer, part-time officers have been difficult to find and retain.”

This anti-police movement will make finding good, qualified part-time officers even more a challenge, it stated.

The letter, which was signed by all department members, called a comment made by Councilman John Haeussler and quoted in the June 23 edition of the DMG into question:

“I know that given the world events right now, it’s easy to look at the world we live in and the world we want, but if you look at the city of Hancock over the past 13 years or so, the police department has already had a negative budgetary impact.”

The letter calls on Haeussler to account for his statement by asking in what city department does not have a negative impact on the budget.

“To single out the police budget seems unjustified,” states the letter.

In fact, the Hancock Police Department is very community supportive, with officers regularly going above and beyond what’s expected to assist our residents, the letter states. The police department functions 24 hours a day to help keep the community safe, dealing on a regular basis with medical calls, deaths, accidents, domestic violence situations, the list goes on and on, “to include unlocking your vehicle when you lock your keys inside. Most of our work is rarely known by the community as a whole, as most cases are handled in a discreet manner.”

The letter concludes by asking the council to commit to supporting the police department, rather than de-funding it. In addition, it asks that funding be increased to allow for the hiring of an additional full-time officer in order to fill the department’s obligations to the community in a more proficient way without manipulating work schedules.

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