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Eagle Lake Police Chief quits, investigation continues

September 16, 2020 - 00:00
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Following a closed session at the Sept. 8 Eagle Lake City Council meeting, council reconvened and voted unanimously to place Eagle Lake Police Chief Wilton White, Jr. on administrative leave with pay, and to investigate irregularities with documents filed with Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE).

TCOLE, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, is the regulatory entity for law

enforcement in Texas. Municipal police agencies are required to follow strict policies pertaining to the firearms qualifications of new and current officers.

The Police Chief is the Chief Administrator to TCOLE who signs and confirms that all qualifications and supporting documents are on file for each officer prior to hire and while employed.

“Unfortunately, the City had no choice but to place Chief White on administrative leave as we further investigate irregularities with notarized and sworn employee documents submitted to TCOLE on new officer hires,” Mayor Mary Parr said following the Sept. 8 decision. “This also includes TCOLE-required qualifications for current officers.”

On Sept. 9, White submitted his resignation from the position as Police Chief effective immediately. City Administrator Melissa Landin said, “The City will complete the internal investigation started regarding the department’s compliance with TCOLE requirements. Council will meet to accept Chief White’s resignation at the Sept. 22 city council meeting.”

Landin went on to say that the City has also requested additional auditing of the police department from TCOLE. Landin said it is not known when the last TCOLE audit was performed on the department.

The Citizen reached out to TCOLE Agent Derry Minor, TCOLE agent in charge ELPD’s region to ask additional information on the matter.

The Citizen completed the Public Information Request form as required by TCOLE, however, requested information was not available before The Citizen’s noon press deadline.

In addition, The Citizen filled out an Open Records Request to the City of Eagle Lake Sept. 9 requesting more information on the investigation. The City had not responded to that request by The Citizen’s noon press deadline.

When asked if White cited a reason for his resignation, Landin said she would have to consult with city attorney Art Pertile to see what additional information and documents may be released for reporting to the public.

As a municipal officer, the police chief reports directly to the City Council. Upon completion of the investigation, a report will be provided to the City Council, and Chief White will have an opportunity to respond.

White was hired as Chief of Police in July 2019. The City of Eagle Lake has had a number of retirements and resignations in city administration over the past two years.

Former City Manager Sylvia Rucka’s appointment retirement in January 2018 was followed a few months later with the resignation of former Chief of Police David Freeman. Gary Broz was hired as City Manager in the summer of 2018, and hired Frank Briscoe as police chief in October 2018.

Briscoe resigned abruptly in May 2019, and Broz hired White. Broz himself resigned as city manager in March 2020, citing “health and family” reasons for his resignation.

According to the Texas Municipal League (TML) website, Broz is currently listed as the City Manager of the City of Edna.