City council votes against Wells chief of police becoming full-time officer

Robert Kalka, Mayor Pro Tem
Robert Kalka, Mayor Pro Tem

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

WELLS, TX (KTRE) – Jeff Clopp is Wells' newest chief of police.

He's also Wells' only police officer, working part time hours.

Monday, council members voted against making Clopp a full time employee.

According to Mayor Pro Tem Robert Kalka, council members agreed to give Clopp 32 hours a week but voted against hiring him on full time, even after Clopp offered to work without benefits.

"Times are tough. Everybody is having to make cuts. I've offered to give up mine until the first of the year to help the city financially. It's not a lot but I feel like it's my share," said Clopp.

The council's decision didn't sit well with some residents.

"A few of them holding that vote, they won't turn it loose and I don't understand. It would be different if someone got shot in their house and he wasn't on duty, what would they do?" said Shanon Thomas.

"If we have an emergency shooting and our officer has exceeded his hours or we don't have an officer we might then have to wait 30 minutes to an hour and a half for Cherokee County to respond, depending on what they've got going on," said John Thomas, a Wells volunteer fire fighter.

Clopp was also surprised.

"I thought for sure they would have saw the need but apparently not," he said.

Kalka says he voted to bring Clopp on full time. As for the three that voted against it, Kalka said, "the main concern is the budget constraints we have right now."

He says the funds are being directed toward city repairs.

"Repairs on several big items that we've had to do in the city just to keep the water and the sewer system running," Kalka explained.

Residents say they are left wondering why safety isn't a top priority.

"The police officers, we had several people here before and they could afford to pay them but they can't pay one officer," said Shanon.

Clopp says securing his community will remain his top priority.

"My main job is out here, is to protect life and property and I don't want to see anybody get hurt but if I'm not here I'm not here."

He says he'll continue to do the best he can, with the time he's given.

Kalka says three council members voted against making Clopp full time while two were for it.

He plans to continue pushing for ways to bring Clopp on as a full-time officer.

©2010 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.