WELLS, TX (KTRE) - By Morgan Thomas - email
WELLS, Texas (KTRE) - The three-to-two vote firing Police Chief Jeff Clopp came as a shock at some say was supposed to be a budget workshop.
"It seems like a personal agenda to me," Mayor Pro-Tem Robert Kalka said. "That's just my opinion."
Councilwoman Dorothy McMillion says her decision is based on claims of Clopp exceeding his set hours and going against policy.
"We have a policy in place that says we won't have civilian ride-alongs in our police car, only policemen," she said.
Kalka says he gave Clopp permission to do both.
"He's doing a fantastic job," Kalka said. "If you understood his caseload, for a little bitty town we have a very large caseload. For one person to do it, that's a lot of work."
Clopp wasn't at Monday night's meeting. Instead dealing with a family emergency.
"If I had any idea this was coming, there is absolutely no doubt I would've been there," he said.
The council's vote marks the second time in a year that the City of Wells is without a police force. The recently fired chief of police says it's all a personal vendetta.
That's because Clopp says he filed criminal charges against a Wells city councilwoman the morning before the meeting.
"The investigation was conducted," Clopp said. "It was pretty well-known around town what I was doing or what had taken place."
Now, he warns that more charges could follow.
"I'm going to attempt to file criminal charges for retaliation on the ones who voted against me," he said.
While not the official reason behind the termination, it does help the city budget.
"Alleviating us from such a huge salary is going to help us tremendously come next month and the month after," McMillion said.
Kalka, however, wishes the council hadn't strayed from the original plan, re-working the budget, line-by-line.
"There's always places that can be cut," Kalka said. "Overtime for other employees that could be looked at. There's a lot of different areas that could be looked at . We could trim our budget so we could afford to have the chief."
The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office is aware of the unstaffed police department.
Deputies will take over law enforcement until a new chief is hired.
Still, Wells city officials worry about the length of time it takes for the sheriff's office to respond.
Kalka says in some cases, it takes as long as an hour.