Wells Police chief looks to overturn employment probation - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Wells Police chief looks to overturn employment probation

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

WELLS, TX (KTRE) - After months of controversy surrounding the Wells Police chief, the new mayor is working to remove the chief from probation.

The Wells City Council voted to place Police Chief Barry Starnes on employment probation for one year after receiving complaints from community members concerning his attitude. The new mayor feels the punishment is too much.

New goals replace old controversy for the new Wells mayor.

"One of them is getting him off probation," Mayor Ron White said.

In August, Wells City Council voted to place Police Chief Barry Starnes on employment probation. A punishment, White said, is too stiff.

"I thought it was a little bit too harsh and that's why I volunteered to work with him to get that off his record," said White.  

For weeks the two have been working on boosting Starnes' people skills.

Without a shadow of a doubt, White sees an improvement. "Back when we had so much controversy between citizens they weren't too sure, but I think they are more confident today then they were several months ago."

Chief Starnes said he has noticed a change within himself.

"I stop and talk to people all day long and wave at everybody I go by and they wave back," Starnes said.

He understands he is in a position that's not always popular.

"Being a police officer is kind like being an umpire, you can only please people half the time," Starnes said.

Though he has the head of the city on his side, he now has to show his community he has their best interest in mind.

White said removing Starnes from employment probation is ultimately up to the city council.

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