Small Central Texas Town Fires Its Only Police Officer

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LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY (March 20, 2014) The Little River-Academy City Council voted unanimously Thursday evening to fire the chief of the small Bell County town’s one man police department.

(Photo by Nick Delgado)

The vote stems from a series of incidents in which police Chief Troy Hess either failed to show up for work or failed to complete reports, Mayor Ronnie White said Thursday.

"When he gets a call and doesn't answer and says his phone wasn't working, or didn't show up for work and says his alarm didn't go off," White said.

"It's been over and over and we keep on working with him, but it just isn't working,” he said.

Hess was hired in September 2009 and had served as chief for the past three years.

He was paid $42,000 a year, officials said.

He attended the meeting Thursday and refused to resign before the council voted to terminate him.

He was not available for comment at the meeting, but later issued a statement through a text message in which he said the mayor’s “interference with the duties of the police department” and ever-changing demands, which aren’t part of written policy, make it “impossible for a police department to do effective police work and investigations.”

“He (the mayor) does not want the patrol car to leave the city and shows up to most calls because he keeps a city radio for personal use,” Hess said in the text.

“The patrol vehicle is also tampered with while it is required to be parked at his private business and residence,” he said.

He declined to comment specifically on the council’s decision to fire him.

"No comment at this time pending possible court litigation,” he texted.

White said the problems started about a year ago.

"Not long ago we signed a deal that if he didn't show up for work next time that he'd be dismissed for a week," he said.

"Then the next time he'd be asked to resign or fired."

White said the city suspended Hess several times over the last few months and then last Monday placed him on indefinite suspension for failure to show progress.

White said Hess also drove the town’s patrol car to part-time jobs outside of the city limits, failed to respond to a domestic disturbance, and did not file paperwork after a recent drug bust.

"He just quit doing what he was supposed to do," he said.

The Bell County Sheriff's Department will to patrol the town until the council hires a replacement," White said.