Dear editor

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” These words have been recently quoted by some Brownwood citizens regarding the Proposition 1 election now in progress for early voting and election day, May 10. Some of us believer it is broke, so let’s fix it.

We are all aware of the elected chief process in Brownwood — one of only four other cities throughout the state still employing such an antiquated, ineffective technique. I wonder why no one else continues to elect their police chief. A great number of citizens strongly believe that it is in the best interest of our city to employ a process by which a qualified police chief could be hired rather than placing the decision at the feet of popularity and rhetoric each election year (the good old boy syndrome).

By employing a process centering on selection through established, meaningful criteria, we believe that this important public servant position would be filled by only the most competent, appropriate candidate — a candidate who would actually be appalled at the fact that Brownwood ranks third in Texas for communities its size in criminal activity. This individual would be given the latitude to employ every law-enforcement tool available to rectify this deplorable situation; tools that are currently available but either misused or dismissed because of the current administration’s lack of vision or simple inability to understand their importance.

In today’s society, a police agency that does not move forward with training, equipment and crime suppression techniques ultimately regresses — creating a haven for criminals and their predatory activities. Unfortunately, statistics suggest that we have reached just such a place.

With the proposed changes to our current selection process, once a qualified applicant is evaluated and hired, he/she will be mandated to provide written instructions, guidelines and procedures to police officers regarding performance expectations, duties and responsibilities. Such guidelines will further ensure that all allegations of misconduct against officers are investigated in an expeditious, neutral manner. There is no place in our community government for secrets, regardless of how unsettling they may be. Our police officials are held to a higher standard, as stated in the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics. To fail these hardworking, dedicated protectors by “covering up” reports of inappropriate behavior only demeans the very reasons most of the young men and women chose this profession.

If the selected police chief does not meet the expectations of the people of Brownwood, then this proposed process provides a mechanism to immediately dismiss the inappropriate choice in lieu of a more qualified applicant. The current process only provides for another election before the expiration of a term with no regard for qualifications — yet another popularity contest filled with rhetoric.

For those of you who believe “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” remember this: a crime rate that ranks third in the state among communities of similar size, repeated allegations of official misconduct and illegal, unethical behavior that have been ignored by the agency’s top official, and an overt refusal to move forward in crime fighting techniques, equipment and training has brought us to this current state of affairs. “If it ain’t broke” then why are we struggling with these issues?

Jim Herman

Brownwood