MOUND CITY, IL (KFVS) - After pay disagreements and an illegitimate employee discharge led to an officer walkout, the Mound City Police Department has replenished its staff.
Mound City has less than 600 residents and that populace was in the care of a lone, part-time police officer for the better part of two months.
"There was kids on the streets getting away with busting bottle rockets towards people's houses, running the streets, taking stuff from other people..." Mound City resident Tissa Calvert said. "I mean... it's just been a riot."
Despite a handful of people rehabilitating some of the century-old buildings throughout the city, much of it consists of overgrown and crumbling ruin.
Mound City is one of two cities in Pulaski County, in addition to a handful of villages scattered in the southernmost tip of Illinois.
A Pulaski County housing complex located near the center of Mound City houses a large portion of the population
D'Ajah Amerson is a young girl who lives there - and says her goal is to leave.
"It's boring here, the water isn't clean, and there's too much violence." Amerson said while a crowd of around 20 children played nearby. "I just don't want to live here."
In late June, former Alexander County Deputy Jimmy Page was hired as chief, despite being offered the same compensation which prompted the walkout.
"The rate is very competitive when compared to the surrounding area, and there are internal discussions of benefits being added in the future." Page said. "It's not a bad community, these are good people. Some have had a rough life and they've never bounced back from it, and some of them have bounced back several times."
As of Friday, July 22, Page had hired five part time officers, none of whom were individuals involved in the walkout.
Marion Krispy Kreme donated 10 dozen doughnuts to the department for a "Coffee with a Cop" event that will be held at City Hall on Saturday, July 23 beginning at 8 a.m.
The Mayor of Mound City, Illinois has apologized for asking the city's police chief to resign without approval of the council.
Mound City Police Chief Jerry Riddle worked as chief part-time until earlier this month.
Around that time, the city offered to make his position full-time, but Riddle refused because he said the job didn't pay much and didn't offer benefits.
Mayor James Warden said he then asked for Riddle's resignation, and found out the next week there was a city ordinance forbidding the mayor from acting as such without approval from the council.
"If I knew then what I know now, I would have not violated any ordinance or rule this city has." Warden said at Tuesday's city council meeting.
Warden said the original reason behind his attempt to make the city's police chief full-time is rooted in what he said is an increase in need and fund availability.
"We've historically had the position part time... but the city has also historically been broke, and we aren't anymore," Warden said. "We need more patrol in this town. That's a fact."
In response to the situation, at least four other officers left the roughly six-man police force the previous week, leaving a lone, part-time officer to police the city.
The aforementioned officer is also employed full time as a K-9 officer for the Pulaski County Sheriff's office.
"It makes me kind of fearful," resident Luz Shaw said. "Because if we call the police and they can't come out, what are we supposed to do, handle it ourselves? What if somebody gets killed?"
After his apology, the mayor made a recommendation for the position.
At least one council member pointed out that the recommendation is the niece of a different council member, and already has a full-time position in a neighboring city.
A motion was unanimously passed on Tuesday, April 19 to advertise for a new police chief, but details or compensation for the new position had not been decided.
The mayor said replacing the rest of the police force will be left up to the new police chief when they find one.
A time frame on the search remained unknown as of Tuesday.
Mound City is the county seat of Pulaski County, and home to the dispatch center for the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department.
Mayor Warden said Pulaski County authorities have been stepping in to help make sure Mound City has a police presence.