Chelsea, Oklahoma – A small town about two-and-a-half hours northeast of Oklahoma City is without a police force today after the entire police department resigned on Wednesday afternoon.
Conflict arose between officers and the town administration in Chelsea, Oklahoma—a city of approximately 2,000 people—back in May when Brian Haggard, a prominent member of the community, was arrested on DUI charges. City officials were then accused of pulling strings in an effort to make Haggard’s troubles disappear.
Nicholas Pappe, the arresting officer, pulled the local business man over on the suspicion of driving under the influence. After being asked by the officer why he thought he had been pulled over, Haggard responded by saying, “If you would give me a free pass tonight I would please appreciate it,” according to dash cam footage.
Haggard, who is the owner of a local construction and excavation company, then made a phone call to Town Administrator, Kenny Weast, who swiftly arrived on the scene.
“I can’t take him home?” Weast asked the officer.
“No sir, he blew over the legal limit,”Pappe explained.
Pappe’s supervisor, Assistant Chief of Police Travis Hogan, stood behind the actions of his officer in the face of the Town Administrator’s intervention.
“It’s a very, very, good stop the officer made. He’s a rookie officer and he made a good stop,” said Hogan.
Once in custody, Haggard began to threaten Officer Pappe by saying that he would have him fired. Haggard’s DUI phone-a-friend, Town Administrator Weast, just so happens to have the authority to hire and fire officers.
The town’s city council held a hearing in May to review the officer’s employment with the Chelsea Police Department. Councilors voted 5 to 1 for Pappe to keep his job.
“I am surprised, pleasantly surprised. I’m glad they removed him from probation,” said Chief Chris Bohl.
Earlier in the same month, the council also voted for the Town Administrator to retain his position despite his interference.
Two weeks ago, Assistant Chief Travis Hogan made the decision to resign from the department, citing a hostile work environment amid the continuous tension from the fallout of the May arrest.
As rumors began to swirl that the town’s officials had hatched a plan to fire Chief Bohl, the entire department decided that instead of waiting to be fired, they would all resign in unison.
“I feel like the weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I’m feeling good. It was for the best,” former Chief Bohl said.
Rogers County Sheriff’s deputies will respond to any calls in the area until the city can hire new officers.