KNIGHTSTOWN, IN.- Just over a month after a majority of the police department resigned, Knightstown, Indiana’s chief of police has submitted his resignation, effective immediately.
Chris Newkirk announced his resignation Thursday, leaving the town of 2,100 people without someone to lead the department. The town is located 25 miles east of Indianapolis.
Newkirk said he was offered a sum of money from the town as “part of an agreement” for his “resignation and silence.” He offered no specifics what that was in reference to.
His letter, addressed to the Knightstown Town Council read:
“After meeting with Town Attorney Gregg Morelock today and being offered a one-time lump sum as part of an agreement for my resignation and silence, I have decided to resign m position as Knightstown Chief of Police.
This resignation is to be effective immediately. You can keep your money. My silence and or rights are not for sale and cannot be bought.
It has been a pleasure to serve the Knightstown Community as their Chief of Police.
Some Knightstown elected officials believe they can do as they please and simply throw some money at someone when they know that person has direct proof of their potential wrong doing (sic). Again, I CAN NOT AND WILL NOT BE BOUGHT!”
In June, a mass resignation of police officers took place, leaving the town with one full-time officer, two part-time officers and three reserves after disagreements with the town council, according to a local official. The total number of officers resigning numbered twelve.
“There have been 15 resignations in the last two to three weeks,” said Scott Spurgin, a Knightstown resident who is also a volunteer firefighter, and who noted that he had worked closely with local law enforcement agencies.
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The resignations were sparked after town officials selected an interim police chief who had less experience than the officer selected by Newkirk, who was on medical leave for a shoulder injury. Officers said that a power struggle ensued after Newkirk’s leave.
The town’s Facebook page posted an announcement about the resignations.
“Recently, there have been some changes within the Knightstown Police Department,” the statement said.
“We, as the Knightstown Town Council, wish to assure the citizens of Knightstown, Indiana that effective measures have been taken to ensure that there is a law enforcement presence for Knightstown, Indiana 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Among the officers who resigned included the department’s only K9 handler, Spurgin said. He was concerned that his resignation would impact the capabilities of investigators throughout the county.
Spurgin as well as other residents were concerned the ongoing conflicts would result in the loss of more officers, as well as longer 911 response times.
“If there’s not an available policeman here in Knightstown…dispatch will have to dispatch a Henry County sheriff’s [deputy] and that could take up to 10, 20 [or] 25 minutes to get here. By that time, who knows what’s going to happen,” he said.
Numerous residents expressed their concerns on the Facebook page announcement by the town, with one saying:
“The community deserves an explanation [as] to why our officers left!” one woman said. “These were good officers who have done a lot for this town and them leaving the way they did means there is more that the town council needs to explain to the community.”
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