Indiana town left without police after entire department quits in protest

After differences with town council, the entire five-member police department of Bunker Hill, Indiana, has resigned in protest.

Former Bunker Hill Town Marshal Michael Thomison alleged mismanagement and unethical requests made by local lawmakers. In his resignation letter, he wrote that members of town council had asked him to “be involved in illegal, unethical and immoral things over time,” including being asked to conduct criminal background checks on other council members and requesting access to confidential information, reported WXIN.

“We have had issues with the town board and there are some activities there where I felt like they were serving their own agenda,” said Thomison. “I have had to educate them on the things they were asking from me and explained that I would not take part in any of these actions.”

Thomison and his four unpaid reserve deputies submitted their resignation letters Monday.

The marshal also raised concerns about safety, saying he and deputies were forced to share one set of body armor.

Thomison, who has served as marshal for the last four years, also quit for personal reasons. He was diagnosed with cancer last year, but when he was ready to go back to work in May, Thomison says they would only allow him to work part time.

Miami County Sheriff Tim Miller has said that county deputies will respond to calls from residents and patrol the area until permanent replacements are found.

“At the end of the day, it’s the public that’s going to suffer, not the town board,” Sheriff Miller told reporters. “It’s an unfortunate situation that the town finds itself in. But we’re going to take care of citizens’ needs in the interim.”

Bunker Hill has a population of about 900.

The Town of Bunker Hill issued the following statement earlier today:

“Like most small towns, there have been from time to time, disagreements in the policy making process between the town council and other town departments. The current town council as well as prior councils have, on occasion, had disagreements with Mr. Thomison over a number of things. These disagreements have primarily been caused by the lack of funding available to the town to invest in the police department. However, the council denies that it has failed to provide body armor for the marshal or reserve deputies. The council is well aware of Indiana law on the topic and has complied with it fully. Further, the council absolutely denies that it has ever asked Mr. Thomison or any of the reserve deputies to be involved in any illegal, unethical or immoral actions.

The council admits that it had made a number of cuts to the police department over the last few years. This was a decision the town made due to a lack of funding. Bunker Hill is diligently working to solve this problem for the coming year. The cuts made to the police department were not made with the intention of jeopardizing the safety of any of the town’s police officers. Over the last few years, the Council has made attempts to find additional money for the department. Mr. Thomison was instrumental in obtaining a large sum of money on behalf of the town. However, he fails to state that the police department received the benefit of a large portion of that funding.
As Mr. Thomison has stated, there is currently a lawsuit pending against the town relating to Indiana’s Open Door Law. The council denies that it has violated Indiana’s Open Door Law in any manner. However, the council will not comment further on this topic as the litigation is still pending.

The resignation of the entire police force has come as a shock to the council. It has never been the goal to dismantle or otherwise endanger the town police department or officers. The council thanks these officers for their service to the town. Bunker Hill is in the process of obtaining a new marshal and reserve deputies. The council asks for patience from the town residents in this process.”