Marked Tree police chief resigns; department left with two officers

MARKED TREE, Ark. — The police chief in the small town of Marked Tree resigned Friday, four days after he was placed on administrative leave.

The reason for Michael Matlock's resignation wasn't disclosed, but former officers say their police department is stretched thin.

"He's resigned and we're moving on," Marked Tree Mayor Steve Craig said of Matlock's resignation Friday.

Craig placed Matlock on administrative leave Monday. Craig refused to do an interview Friday and said on the phone he had no comment about why he placed the chief on leave. He also said he didn't know why the chief decided to resign Friday morning.

People who live in Marked Tree said issues in the police department escalated last weekend with a shooting at the Delta Point Apartments.

"We heard gunshots and we seen everyone running and we heard somebody got shot four times, so it's pretty scary," Rebecca Miles said.

But it's unclear what happened in the law enforcement response. The apartments are within Marked Tree city limits, but the Poinsett County Sheriff said his department is investigating.

Eric Jackson, a former Marked Tree officer, said the mayor fired him and another officer recently.

"He got rid of myself and Anquan Williams for no reason. He didn't give us a reason," he said.

Jackson said others left for better opportunities, leaving the department severely understaffed. At one time it had eight officers, but Craig said they're now down to two.

"They've been working 12 hours a day, seven days a week without days off and that's dangerous in this line of work," Jackson said.

Molder said county deputies will increase patrols in Marked Tree to help out until the department can replenish its numbers again.

Craig said he had several candidates for police chief to consider over the weekend and planned to install a new chief at Monday's city council meeting.

Miles had her own ideas about what's going on in the police department.

"It`s probably because they're not doing their job like they should," she said. "I don't believe they are. We have a high crime rate. There's a lot. People will just randomly shoot in the air."

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