Strasburg police chief fired following drastic measures by mayor - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Strasburg police chief fired following drastic measures by mayor

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STRASBURG, MO (KCTV) -

The Strasburg City Council met Saturday afternoon for the first time since the town's mayor unexpectedly changed the locks on City Hall.

The members did not discuss the incident publicly but, during a closed session, the town's police chief was fired.

Now many people in the town want answers.

Gary Birge attended Strasburg's public city council meeting to find out why Mayor Merle Gates suddenly shut down city offices to everyone, including the police chief and hid the town's only police car.

But less than 30 minutes into the meeting the council adjourned to a closed session without addressing the incident.

"We don't know the full story and I guess they're discussing it behind closed doors right now," Birge said.

Shortly after the council called in Police Chief Aaron Roberts who said he had several disagreements with the mayor leading up to the lockout.

"The mayor has simply taken the vehicle and locked us out of the office. He explained to me that he's no longer wanting us to arrest people or transport violators," Roberts said.

By the end of the closed session meeting Roberts no longer had a job and he said he believes his firing was part of a personal vendetta.

"It's a sad day when these people are just now discovering that they elected a city official who just bluntly will disregard any rules and regulations there are out there," Roberts said.

Gates declined KCTV5's request for an interview, saying he and other council members are not allowed to comment on the closed session. But he said Friday night that the lockdown was a stop-gap measure to save the city money.

Some council members believe Gates overstepped his bounds.

"He (Roberts) wasn't able to perform his duties when called upon due to the mayor's actions. It really aggravated me and it doesn't sit well with me," said Councilman Daniel Yarnell.

There's been a number of scenarios very similar. There's always something interesting in Strasburg.

On Saturday the council members and city clerk did receive new keys to City Hall.

More information will become available when the council releases its minutes on Monday.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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