Bangs mayor gives police chief letter of complaints

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
City of Bangs

BANGS — Jorge Camarillo doesn't know his future as chief of the Bangs Police Department.

Mayor Rick Phelps presented Camarillo on Tuesday with a letter, written by City Attorney Mark Bessent, stating complaints against Camarillo. 

"The police department in Bangs has been a source of contention for many years, and I want to fix that," Phelps said.

During their monthly meetings in July and August, Bangs City Council members have entered executive sessions to discuss potential disciplinary action against Camarillo. Council members have not taken any action.

Bessent said the letter lists "various complaints that the council has received that pertain to Jorge's job performance." Bessent declined to elaborate.

Bessent added, "there's going to be an investigation." When asked who would do the investigation, Bessent replied, "not me, and not the council. It's going to be someone that's independent."

Camarillo — who is the only officer on the department following the resignations of two officers Monday — could not be reached for comment Thursday.

In a phone interview Tuesday, before he had received the letter, Camarillo said he did not know what the complaints were about.

When asked if he thinks his job is safe, Camarillo said, "I don't know. It's a new administration and I've got a new mayor and new council members and so I don't know what they're expecting of me."

Camarillo has been chief of the Bangs department since December 2014.

Camarillo's attorney, John Lee Blagg of Brownwood, could not be reached for comment Thursday morning.

In an earlier interview, Blagg said the city council appointed a committee consisting of Phelps and two council members to hire new officers.

“It’s been a hard experience for Jorge,” Blagg said. “He needs some police officers over there. One thing that I’m a little bit upset about is that they’re not going to allow him to hire his assistants. The city council is going to hire the assistants. I told Jorge he needs to sit on those interviews.”

Phelps said no one has told Camarillo that he won't be involved in the hiring of new officers.

"I never stated that Jorge couldn't be a part of process, and neither did a single member of the council," Phelps said. "It is evident that there has been an issue with hiring and/or retaining quality officers. My prayer is that we can change that.

"The bottom line is this. The problems within the police department have been prevalent during Jorge's tenure as chief, and before that as well. A change will need to be made. A culture will be created that not only proves that we care about our residents, but we are willing to earn their trust."

Phelps said when he took office in May, Camarillo asked him "what I was looking at, moving in as the mayor. I told him my first priority was to make sure the right people were in the right places, to make sure the city’s running as well as it can.”

When asked if he believes someone other than Camarillo will be chief, Phelps said, "Any future decision will come after the outside firm returns the results of their independent investigation of the complaints that were given to the chief and his attorney."