The Bartonville Police Department has some good news and some bad news.
The good news is that at its July 15 meeting, the Town Council ratified Bobby Dowell’s appointment as interim police chief. The July 1 retirement of former Bartonville Police Chief Dave Howell was announced at the June 17 council meeting, following months of conflict about the future direction of the town’s police department.
The bad news is that at its July 21 meeting, the Double Oak Town Council voted 3 to 2 to no longer pursue at present its informal conversations relative to the Double Oak Police Department providing contracted police services to the Town of Bartonville.
The Bartonville Police Department has been staffed by the chief, three fulltime officers, plus one part-time officer, actually working a 32-hour week. If Bartonville residents want 24/7 patrol coverage, additional officers will be required.
“The Interlocal Agreement had been on three of the Double Oak Council meeting agendas,” said Bartonville Mayor William Scherer. “At the first [Double Oak] council meeting, a few Bartonville residents attended. At the second, the Mayor Pro Tem and I—as Mayor—attended. At the third meeting, none of the Bartonville council members were able to attend; a few sub-set of Bartonville residents, who don’t want the agreement to even be considered, were there. The Double Oak council voted not to consider the issue at this time.”
Among the reported Double Oak reasons to put discussions on hold, is that Bartonville has yet to decide what it wants the future to be for its law enforcement profile. The present Bartonville council is divided on the issue and because there’s an election in November to fill the vacant Place 3 seat, the council’s direction could change completely … again.
After the recent May election, the newly-elected Bartonville Town Council began investigating the future of the town’s law enforcement options. Town leaders chose not to enter into a contract for patrol coverage by the Denton County Sheriff’s Office and the Argyle Police Department was not interested in providing police services to Bartonville.
The Town of Double Oak had, however, drafted a preliminary two-year contract for law enforcement services. That Interlocal Cooperation Agreement between Bartonville and Double Oak included the provision that Bartonville would pay $389,458 to Double Oak for 24-hour police services, to be provided by four designated Bartonville police officers, for a 12-month period, to be paid in four equal installments of $97,364. During subsequent fiscal years, per-officer costs would be computed as a percentage of the Double Oak Police Department operational expenses and would potentially result in percentage increases or decreases, based upon overall line item analysis.
The current Bartonville budget has allocated about $479,000—considerably more than the amount outlined for full 24/7 coverage in the draft agreement– for the police department’s operations this year. Some council members had expressed concerns about rising police costs at the expense of other items, such as road repair.
The Bartonville Town Council conducted a work session following its regular meeting on July 15 to explore options and have discussions on police services, along with current budgetary constraints, and the town staff recommended an independent assessment and audit by the Texas Police Chiefs Association of the department. The town’s crime control and prevention district is expected to consider that consulting contract, which would cost about $3,000.
“The result of a town survey conducted last year revealed that some of the residents want a smaller police force to save money, but some want 24/7 coverage in anticipation of the upcoming commercial and retail growth already underway,” said Scherer. “It seemed that the agreement with Double Oak would accomplish both of those goals, but a sub-set of a few people didn’t want that option considered.”
The Double Oak decision preceded a Bartonville Community Police Forum which had been scheduled for Tuesday, August 5, at 6:30 p.m. However, the forum was cancelled by town council members at their July 29 meeting.
“A council subcommittee had done research on all the options and had reported that either the status quo or the Double Oak Interlocal Agreement were the best choices,” said Scherer. “Now that Double Oak has been removed, the status quo is it for now. So, we may not have 24/7 [police] coverage by the time the new [Lantana Town Center] is built and that’s potentially problematic.”
He added that Bartonville has a very diverse Town Council with no uniformity of ideas.
“It’s good to get various points of view,” said Scherer.
The result of sharing ideas around and around without action is like pioneers circling the wagons against outside forces—the wagon train doesn’t go anywhere and eventually loses the battle unless the cavalry arrives in time.
Bartonville has turned away the Double Oak cavalry.