HIGHLANDVILLE, Mo. — The mayor of Highlandville has dissolved the police force after one of two paid officers resigned in January.
A letter from Mayor Clint Ellingsworth to the Highlandville Police Department reads:
It has come to out attention, [due] to the Christian County Sheriff’s Office investigation of the alleged domestic assault on Bradley Court in Highlandville, that Missouri State Statutes may have been broken by all remaining personnel. In a Special Duly Posted meeting of the Board of Aldermen on February 2, 2023, it was decided to dissolve the current Volunteer Reserve Police Program as it is today and place remaining paid personnel on Administrative Leave. This is to become effective close of business on February, 2023Mayor Clint Ellingsworth
Former Highlandville Police Chief Warren Hagar verified that the Bradley Court incident is the same incident that put officer Tracy West under investigation.
West was accused of mishandling a domestic assault call by failing to file a report or make an arrest during a weapons call. It was also found that West did not pass a background check before he was brought on as an officer by the mayor.
West was placed on leave in December 2022 but returned to work the following January. Days later, the other officer quit due to turmoil. Between these events, then-current Police Chief Hagar’s home burnt down after he left for vacation.
Hagar worked as an unpaid volunteer police chief. Mayor Ellingsworth confirms Hagar and two other volunteers were fired. The remaining paid officer West was put on administrative leave on Feb. 2. That leaves Highlandville with no police force until they are replaced.
Christian County Sheriff Brad Cole told KOLR 10 Investigates that its investigation into the domestic assault call is complete and recommendations have been sent to the prosecutor’s office. Christian County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Tuohy said it could take several weeks to review the department’s findings. It’s common for the prosecutor to request additional information in cases involving law enforcement officers, according to Tuohy.
The mayor said when people call 911, either the Christian County Sheriff’s Office or the Missouri State Highway Patrol will respond if necessary. Ellingsworth said although he does expect some calls to fall through the cracks, he believes Highlandville citizens are still well-protected.