To the editor,
More questions than answers …
Apparently, Brownwood Police Department policies and procedures haven't been updated for approximately 20 years. It is out of date and virtually unused. Why? If any department needs updated policies and procedures, it would be the police department!
Brownwood has one of the highest crime rates, per capita, in the state. We are also one of only four other cities, of any size, who still elect — rather than hire — their police chief.
In recent years the Brownwood Police Department had a police officer indicted and found guilty of crimes involving drugs taken from the department’s evidence storage room. Why were policies and procedures not in place to insure the evidence room's security?
Since that breach we still don’t know if there are policies and procedures developed to secure the integrity of the evidence storage room. Are there?
And now, a Brownwood police officer has been indicted for "sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child by sexual contact.” The child involved was a member of the Explorer Scouts, a group sponsored by the police officer in question. Why was the police officer allowed to take a female child on patrol with him, alone, repeatedly? This is a violation of Scout rules, but apparently not Brownwood Police Department rules.
Informed sources tell me that the Brownwood Police were informed of this officer’s possible abuse of a female Explorer Scout in 2004. Despite those claims, the officer was allowed to continue to sponsor the Explorer Scouts! He then targeted another child and was apprehended sexually abusing this child in 2007. After the first incident, why was the officer allowed to continue violating Explorer Scout rules? Why weren’t department policies and procedures put into place to prevent this type of situation?
His trial is scheduled in June of 2008.
These incidents were allowed to continue to occur in our police department. One jeopardized many pending drug cases in our court system and allowed indicted drug offenders to go free. The other might possibly cost the city millions of dollars in lawsuits.
Where does the buck stop? “The Buck Stops at the Top.” In this case that “Top” is an elected police chief, who has zero accountability until the next election. That is two years from now. Can Brownwood afford to wait that long to correct these ongoing problems? With a hired police chief, the incidents could have been addressed and corrected immediately.
It takes a trained professional to manage 60-plus employees and a $3.6 million budget. That might not necessarily be the most popular candidate who is elected every four years. The citizens of Brownwood don’t have to wait four years to vote for a new council. We just saw how easy it is to change the makeup of the City Council.
In recent years I have had the privilege of working with many of the finest law enforcement agencies in four states and I think the City of Brownwood's method of selecting a police chief is “broke” and it's time to