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Palestine Mayor speaks on Police Chief controversy

PALESTINE, June 13, 2014—Much controversy has surrounded the issue of whether the Palestine Police Chief, Robert Herbert, will be granted another 2-year contract. In light of a recent management survey, performed by Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA), in which Chief Herbert received the most negative scores ever revealed on such management studies performed at any Texas police department in more than ten years, Monday night’s City Council meeting was heated.

Sixteen individuals spoke in opposition to a new contract, while four individuals spoke in favor. City Council moved to a three-hour closed session and failed to reach a decision.

The following day, a Palestine Police Department Town Hall Meeting at Westwood Elementary was cancelled due to the misrepresentation that the meeting would be a continuation of the City Council meeting discussion. The Town Hall Meeting’s original purpose was to discuss recent vehicle burglaries and how residents could protect themselves. However, even once Lt. James Muniz announced the meeting had been cancelled, Noel Johnson, a Field Representative with the TMPA, took the opportunity to address the crowd until a Westwood employee told those present they would have to leave the premises.

Palestine Mayor Therrell Thomas says the opinion that City Council did nothing is inaccurate. According to Mayor Thomas, City Council made the decision to investigate everything and take their time in order to make the right decision.

“We will decide the correct course of action in regard to everything, not just what was said publically…because there’s more than all that’s said publically,“ said Mayor Thomas. “We all care about Palestine. It’s really about a bigger picture…It’s about Palestine. It’s a great city, it’s a great place. I believe we have a great department with some troubles in it right now, and we’re going to work through and settle those troubles and we’re going to have a better tomorrow.”

About Chief Herbert, Mayor Thomas said, “Not going to say the Chief is just a totally bad person, done a totally bad job. That would be an unfair statement to say, ‘Everything you do is horrible.’ But we’re going to look at some management things with the Chief, and we’re going to figure out what’s best for the city of Palestine in regard to that.”

KYYK’s Gary Richards spoke with Mayor Thomas about the internal PD issues, and how the issue can be best resolved. Click below for more.

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