Melcher-Dallas — The Melcher-Dallas City Council accepted the resignation of Police Chief Kevin Hoch at its regular meeting Monday night. The council plans to meet again, in special session, Wednesday, June 18, at 5 p.m., to discuss its options regarding law enforcement in the future.
Robert Wittkowski was appointed interim police chief. However, other small towns in Marion County, including Bussey, contract with the Sheriff's Office to provide protection. That option exists for Melcher-Dallas.
Currently, the Sheriff's Department is willing to assist the police department when it can. Regarding whether or not the City will disband its police force, and rely entirely upon the County, Sheriff Jason Sandholdt said it is the city council's decision. His position is that the Sheriff's Department will be glad to help the City in any way it can.
Residents this morning were split regarding the future of law enforcement in Melcher-Dallas. Some saw benefits in keeping a local police force, while others thought turning all law enforcement duties over the County would be a benefit. There was also disappointment expressed regarding Hoch's decision, and some blame was placed on the city council for the chief's exit.
One woman, who did not want to be identified, said she does not want to see the City turn all of its law enforcement over to the County. She does not believe the Sheriff's Department will provide enough coverage to protect the town.
Another response received from a man, who also wanted to remain anonymous, was that if the council hires someone locally, he or she will be too lenient on local criminals. He believes there have been such problems in the past, with Melcher-Dallas officers "playing favorites."
There is also the opinion that Melcher-Dallas once had a good officer, who wrote several citations, but was fired by the council because of it.