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Letter: Bartonville needs fully staffed police department

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We attended the packed Public Hearing last Tuesday 9/2/2014 and, like most in attendance, left disgusted and disappointed with our Town Council and the outcome of budget relating to the police department.

The proposed budget would have kept our tax rate the lowest in the area, increase our depleted police force back to a Chief and four full time officers (still not 24/7), and have a $20,000 budget surplus.

At the end, Mayor Scherer joined Councilmembers Traylor and Carrington to break a 2-2 tie to lower our police coverage to a Chief and only three full time officers.

Bartonville has a special election coming soon. If you are concerned about public safety, and think Bartonville needs to get closer to 24/7 protection than away from it, this election is important.  We have not had time to study any of the candidates yet, and don’t know who any of them are, but if we can get someone elected who will commit to revisiting this issue this year and adding the fourth officer, then that person can break the 2-2 tie in favor of public safety.   

Here is the email we sent to all council members this weekend:

Mayor Scherer and Council Members,

We were extremely disappointed in the council meeting last Tuesday September 4. We can’t understand when given the opportunity to keep our low tax rate, increase the police department to four officers and a chief, and have a budget surplus, you failed our town. Some things we’d like to say to you individually:

Mayor, we talked to you before the election and we asked you about the police department. You told us of your plan with Double Oak and how that would give us 24/7 police coverage. We expressed concern, but you assured us that you would not support any plan that would not give us least as good as coverage as we currently have. We don’t know the details on why the DO concept fell apart and don’t care. On Tuesday you had a chance to keep us safe and have a balanced budget with a surplus and you failed. We are used to being lied to by politicians running for office, but not being lied to by someone that is a good neighbor.

Councilmember Carrington, before the election you stopped and talked to us while we were feeding our horses and told us you were running for Council. We told you we had not lived here long, just gotten registered to vote, and try to always vote. We asked you specifically about the police department. You gave us a similar answer to Bill, and when we pressed you, you said you would not do anything to decrease public safety. Again we were lied to.

Councilmember Traylor, you were quoted in The Cross Timbers Gazette as saying “If crime increases then, by golly, I’m all for it”. We were at the meeting and that sounds like an accurate quote. Let us ask you some questions?

• Do you drive your car until it belches black smoke and the engine freezes before you take it in, or do you follow routine maintenance?

• Do you and your family get regular physicals and practice some healthy routines, or wait until you are deathly ill and then go for help?

• If you have young kids at home, do you keep the house full of Mountain Dew and candy, have no toothbrushes, wait for their teeth to turn black, and then call in a dentist?

As absurd as this sounds, it’s not much different than waiting for the criminals to attack your town before getting us the police protection we deserve.

Councilmembers Langford and Medlock, thank you for having common sense and keeping the safety of Bartonville in mind. Before the minutes of this meeting are approved, please remind the council that during the budget hearing the Mayor said something like “this budget is fluid and this matter can be addressed later in the year.”  Maybe even have that quote inserted before the minutes are approved. Then, if we can get someone elected in the special election that cares about keeping our town safe, you can reverse the decision of last Tuesday without having our Mayor say he never said it and the idea is dead until next year.

We understand that some citizens feel that at one time our police were overzealous enforcing minor offenses.  We don’t want speed traps, parents getting in trouble for taking their kids to the bus stop in golf carts, and we want ranchers being able to drive their ATVs down streets to tend to their animals without getting hassled. We want cars to stop going 40+ in 30 MPH zones and for the criminals to know that if a Bartonville citizen needs help, it won’t take over an hour for the police to show up. A good city council can instruct a Police Chief to have their officers enforce laws as most of us want in a small town and not act like Barney Fife.

Brad and Kim Thomas 
Bartonville, TX

 

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