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Cancelled Westwood Town Hall Meeting does not stop discussion on PPD Police Chief

PALESTINE, June 11, 2014—A cancelled Palestine Police Department Town Hall Meeting in Westwood, on Tuesday evening, turned into an impromptu continuation of Monday night’s City Council meeting regarding Palestine Police Chief Robert Herbert.

The Town Hall Meeting, which had been planned as a way for Westwood residents to learn more about vehicle burglary and how to protect themselves, as well as a discussion on other local issues, was misrepresented as a continuation of a City Council meeting held Monday night, according to a press release sent by the City of Palestine. Since this was not the original purpose of the meeting, it was believed the issue would hinder Palestine PD’s ability to “provide citizens the information and the interaction they deserve.” The meeting will be rescheduled at a later date.

However, the cancelled meeting did not stop discussion from taking place anyway. Noel Johnson, a Field Representative with the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA) came forward to address the crowd, which was largely composed of individuals seeking action by the City Council in regard to the position of Palestine Police Chief Robert Herbert.

In a recent Management Survey for Chief Herbert, conducted by TMPA, Chief Herbert received the following from members of Palestine Police Department:

  • 0% of police department employees having high moral
  • 0% of the police department employees would finish their career at Palestine PD
  • 0% of police department employees have confidence that Chief Herbert can lead the department into the future

According to TMPA, the Palestine Police Officers Association (PPOA) and TMPA received complaints from officers at the Palestine Police Department with regard to morale and lack of leadership within the police department. According to TMPA, in order to develop a plan to correct any departmental issues the TMPA and PPOA conducted the professional management study. TMPA reported that over 80 percent of the Palestine Police Department employees participated in this survey, including more than 96 percent of all sworn peace officers.

The TMPA says the Chief of Police was the only commissioned peace officer that did not complete the survey and the survey results were the most negative scores ever revealed on such management studies performed at any Texas police department in more than ten years.

On Monday, the Palestine City Council heard public opinion on the matter and considered whether or not Chief Herbert would be granted another two-year contract. Sixteen individuals spoke in opposition to a new contract, and four individuals spoke in favor. After a 3-hour closed session, City Council tabled the issue and no decision was reached.

Those in opposition to Chief Herbert’s position and the lack of action by City Council viewed the Westwood Town Hall Meeting as an opportunity to continue the heated discussion. According to witnesses, Police Chief Herbert arrived at the meeting, but did not get out of the vehicle. Palestine Police Lt. James Muniz entered Westwood Elementary and told the crowd that the meeting was cancelled and would be rescheduled. When Lt. Muniz left, TMPA Field Representative Noel Johnson took the opportunity to address the crowd.

During the discussion, a Westwood employee told the crowd they would have to leave the facility.

“Excuse me, I just got a call from the Superintendent. He said lock the building,” said the employee. “Because this meeting was scheduled through the school board …(inaudible due to crowd reaction)..it’s one hundred percent legally to protect the school board.”

The crowd filed out of the building, where discussion continued in the parking lot.

Click below to hear Johnson and the public discussion which followed.

Johnson continued his discussion with Bob Herrington on the KNET morning show 'Meddling in the Morning'. To listen to the show, visit the Meddling in the Morning Audio on Demand under the Audio on Demand tab at YourEastTexas.com.

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