The situation comes to light via a letter to the editor published in a Hot Springs newspaper today.
Former HSVPD patrol officer Dale Anderson has resigned after first turning to the Hot Springs Village Property Owner's Association (POA) for action last week. When that didn't happen, he did as promised and submitted the letter to the Hot Springs Sentinel Record, which published it today.
Anderson provided a copy to KARK 4:
To HSV General Manager Scott Randall, all POA Board members, Public Safety Director, Chief Cornett, residents and property owners of Hot Springs Village:
I have served as a police officer for almost 27 years. Twenty of those years were on a larger metropolitan police department with a rather significant violent crime rate. After moving to Hot Springs Village four years ago, I proudly began serving as a patrol officer with the Hot Springs Village Police Department, seeking to give back to the community I had chosen to make my new home.
Throughout these past four years, I have witnessed the officers of this department deal with many frustrating, outdated and antiquated policies, procedures and administrative decisions. These procedures and "past practices" would leave both officers and their supervisors feeling frustrated on a repeated basis. Recommendations or suggestions made by experienced officers were rarely acknowledged and their ideas were never considered. Any attempts to improve procedures or outdated practices were not only discouraged, but met with resistance, extreme negativity, and even hostility on occasion. The statement, "If you don't like it here, go get a job somewhere else," was heard quite often. Officers were also subjected to working within the most "hostile work environment" I've ever experienced.
As a property owner and resident of Hot Springs Village, I am entitled to an opinion and have the right to express that opinion. Unfortunately, as a POA employee, that right is basically forfeited. As a direct result, I have been unable to share or expose the many issues and problems that plague your Hot Springs Village Police Department.
A recent incident and the subsequent Dawna Natzke investigation have caused many Hot Springs Village residents to question their police department's leadership. There also appears to be some type of official "gag order" surrounding this investigation. This has caused many questions to surface regarding the manner in which the current command staff handled this investigation and why resources that were offered or made available were never utilized. Based on my experience and training, these concerns certainly appear justified and deserve to be addressed.
In light of this questionable investigation and the "deafening silence" that has followed, I fear that appropriate accountability will never be sought and that subsequent consequences will never be paid. As a result of this, l have decided to publicly resign from the Hot Springs Village Police Department. I have zero confidence in this department's current leadership and I am unable to feel even the slightest amount of pride in any continued service. Therefore, I cannot continue to serve under this department's current command staff or their direction.
It is my hope that this action will provide further cause for residents to demand that their questions be answered, their concerns be addressed, and that appropriate action is taken to ensure that their police department undergoes a major restructuring.
Although this letter is an expression of my personal views and opinions, I can assure you that other members of both your Hot Springs Village police and fire departments have shared similar viewpoints with me. Fears of retaliation and loss of their jobs have prevented them from openly expressing these concerns previously. If asked individually in a private environment, additional officers and firefighters will substantiate the views expressed herein.
In closing, I realize my decision will not be without consequences of its own. Attacks against my character and attempts to discredit me may soon be forthcoming. My family's personal finances will also suffer accordingly. I do believe, however, that these personal sacrifices will be small in comparison to what the entire Hot Springs Village will gain by demanding change within its police department.
Dale E. Anderson
The chief of police for the HSVPD responded to Anderson's accusations in an afternoon news conference.
Tune in tonight at 10 for a complete report from KARK 4 Reporter Marci Manley.