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China Grove makes Davis reserve officer
China Grove resident Glenn McCarty addresses the city council at its April 3 meeting about what he views as the apparent need for China Grove to once again have a dedicated police department.
CHINA GROVE -- Larry Davis once again is a member of the China Grove Police Department -- sort of. The department’s former chief has been selected to hold that position on an interim basis, following a unanimous vote April 3 by the China Grove City Council.
Davis, 63, will retain reserve officer status while performing “administrative duties,” for which he will be paid $15 per hour, not to exceed 10 hours per month, unless otherwise directed.
Following the meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Doug Pruski said, “We feel it is in the best interest of the city to do what we did. We need a law-enforcement officer to enforce codes and ordinances.”
Davis and former Officer Damian Balderas were the only paid officers prior to the council’s decision in December to suspend the entire department. The Wilson County News, through an open records request, obtained copies of severance agreements signed Dec. 11, 2013, by the two officers. As of March, however, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) never received notice of Davis’ separation. (See “Davis still China Grove chief,” March 5.)
The city, in response to the newspaper’s request, also provided a copy of a March 10 letter to TCOLE, indicating that Davis and John Jenkins Jr. were the department’s two reserve officers, furnishing copies of their appointment applications.
Attempts to obtain comment from TCOLE related to its review of the matter were unsuccessful as of press time April 7.
Various questions about the state of the department -- including the status of evidence and property and any unfinished investigations -- remain unanswered. When asked about these issues, Pruski answered, “No comment.”
The ambiguity surrounding the department does not sit well with residents such as Glenn McCarty, who spoke during the meeting about the city’s need for its own police force, referencing increased activity related to illegal narcotics on Tree Bend Street.
Former Councilman Larry Keller, who also spoke during the meeting, said he was concerned about the perception the citizenry has of the current council. Keller said that he hoped the decision to suspend the police department was not because of vindictiveness or manipulation.
“Government should be transparent on all levels,” he said.
Additional business acted upon during the meeting will appear in the April 16 edition of the Wilson County News, including:
•The council voted to prioritize streets repairs and initiate a competitive bid process for completion of repairs to three streets in the Tierra Bonita subdivision.
•The council proposed holding a budget workshop during a special called meeting later this month. At this meeting, for which the date is yet to be announced, the council could change the beginning and ending dates of the city’s fiscal year.
Also in attendance: Councilmen Cathy Ripps, Mike Trainor, John McRae, and Margie Holisky; City Secretary Linda Gill, Municipal Court Clerk LaToya Johnson, attorney Stephen Peña Sr., and fire Chief Mike Winfield.
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