When law enforcement hits close to home, cost becomes painfully clear

By Jack Hartley

I have a hard time understanding why growth is so expensive. When I was a kid, Oak Grove had a population of 800, and a town marshal who furnished his own car and gun.He was paid $100 per month, which amounted to $1.50 per resident per year.
The marshal’s name was Frank Morgan, and he was the most effective and feared lawman in the area.
One time in the middle of the night he stopped the robbery of our grocery store and arrested the two would-be robbers singlehandedly.  From that time on, the town was virtually crime free.
Eventually, when the town got about 2,000 population, they hired the sheriff’s patrol to police the town. They started out charging $30,000 a year, which cost each resident of the city less than $10 a year.
While they were the law enforcement, we had a double murder that was drug-related and within a week they had made an arrest and later got a conviction.
Oak Grove is now 6,000 population and since 1999 we have had our own police department. We now have 15 patrolmen, 10 cars, and a budget of $1.2 million.
The first crime that happened after the city police force was formed was the theft of a 600-pound safe out of city hall. There had to be more than one person involved in the theft and one of them had a key to city hall.
My grandson, who was nine years old at the time, could have probably solved the crime in a couple hours. I offered a $1,000 reward and to this day, 12 years later, it has not been solved.
We are now at a cost of over $200 for every man, woman and child in our community or about $800 per household.
I am not sure they have solved any crimes in the last 13 years.However, there is one thing they are very good at, And that is issuing traffic tickets. I can personally verify that, since I got one last week myself.

Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075 or . Check out

You must be logged in to post a comment Login