On Monday, April 13, the town of Parma, Missouri had a population of only 740 people and a police force of six officers. Many of its citizens marveled at this fact since the officers were rarely seen patrolling even though there had been a rash of break-ins.
Then, on Tuesday, April 14, the townspeople elected their first female African-American mayor. Tyrus Byrd is a lifetime resident of the town and a former missionary and city clerk. She beat Mayor Randall Ramsey, who had served for 37 years, by 37 votes.
Right after the announcement, more than 80 percent of Parma’s police force and half of Parma’s city employees — two full-time police officers, three part-time police officers, the city’s clerk, the city’s water treatment plant supervisor and the city’s attorney — quit their jobs.
Several news outlets reported at first that resignation letters from the employees stated that they were “retiring” over “safety concerns.” This week, Mayor Byrd has advised the press that she has not found any resignation letters. Worse yet, the former city employees supposedly took budget documents, financial statements and other important city papers with them.
Some people wonder if the reason for their actions involved an episode the month before in which a Caucasian-American part-time police officer used a Taser on a 17-year-old African-American teenager after the teen refused to speak to the officer or come to the station while being investigated for making prank calls. The teen was related to Mayor Byrd.