Wells City Council's resolution sparks mixed opinions - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Wells City Council's resolution sparks mixed opinions

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

WELLS, TX (KTRE) - After hours of discussing the citizens concerns about the Wells Police Department, City Council members came to a resolution, placing Police Chief Barry Starnes on a year employment probation.

Council members believe it's a fair and sound decision, while residents aren't pleased, and the city's top cop calls it retaliation.

"I really do," said Barry Starnes, Wells Police Chief. "There's a couple of folks on city council that doesn't [don't] like me and there's a lot of folks around everywhere that I don't like, but I don't try to take the livelihood away away from them."

Wells City Council members spent hours Monday night reviewing numerous complaints concerning Starnes' performance and the department itself.

"They're very aggressive," said Billy Petty, resident. "There's no room for a good old boy I guess."

Starnes admits he might have crossed the line a time or two, but he said that was in the past. "At one time, yeah, I'm sure I was," said Starnes. "I could even consider myself overly aggressive. Those days are over, have been over for years. At least four or five years now."

The council said there's no question Starnes knows his legal authority; the problem is his people skills.

"So, what we did is offer him a chance to improve his people skills so that he will be at better terms with the citizens than he is at present time," said Roy White, council member.

Residents waited for hours outside of the Wells City Hall. They said it wasn't the answer they were looking for. "We might be pacified, but we're not satisfied, and no we're not because it's not going to change," said Judy Tobias, resident.  

"They're probably dissatisfied because we didn't run them off, we did not fire him, but a lot of their complaints were three or four years old and you cannot wait three or four years to inform an employee that they made an error," said White.

White said it's unclear how long it will take to get the city of wells out of the spotlight, but he believes they're on the right track.

White said the council will meet again in a closed session if a legitimate complaint is filed against chief starnes.

In a separate incident, Chief Starnes said a police report was filed after former Wells Mayor Jim Maddox received a death threat Monday afternoon. Starnes said they're investigating it and take all threats very seriously.

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