On Monday evening, the citizens of Stinnett came together to address several concerns regarding the Stinnett police department.
Local citizen and police officer EC Garza spoke at the Stinnett City Council’s regular meeting in the Stinnett City Hal1. Garza said, “There have been allegations that I’m not working, that I don’t do my job, that a lot of people complain and from what I’ve seen, a lot of people are complaining that I’m not out right now.”
Garza was almost injured while on duty and was put on administrative leave by his higher commanders. He also stated that there was no contact from his employers for a eight-month time period. When he returned, there was a new officer with no experience and was making more than he was.
“I addressed it with the chief of police at the time who said nothing was going to be done and left. Once that officer left, I was the only officer. I didn’t have any reason to complain. A new officer came in again with zero experience making more than the previous officer.
“That’s why I addressed it with the city manager. When they decided to put me on administrative leave, my fiancée decided to go proactive,” Garza said. “I love working here and I love what I do.”
Sonia Gonzales, who is EC Garza’s fiancée, said, “We have a petition with over 100 signatures. It’s just saying that the city doesn’t want him gone. The city wants him here. This is a really horrible time to get rid of a narcotics officer when, if you go to Borger and you go to Fritch, you can hear people saying, ‘Come to Stinnett, you can get away with anything.’ [It’s a] really horrible time to be getting rid of an officer, especially one with experience.”
Most of the citizens who voiced their opinion stated that they wanted a better system in the police department. There were also a lot of complaints on robberies and drugs that are going around and happening in Stinnett. Citizens voiced that they would like to see more officers patrolling the streets at night and catching the criminals.
“People are afraid, worried about their kids, and worried to go to bed at night, what are we going to wake up to tomorrow?” local citizen Mandy Cook asked. ”I just feel this town is becoming a safe haven for criminals and if we don’t do something, now its just going to get worse.”
Other citizens shared concerns about whether they should prepare themselves and children for the worst and if they should even arm their homes with weapons.
Later in the meeting after April Couch stated her opinion, agreeing with the citizens and their concerns. “I feel like the people here were willing to help or they wouldn’t have come,” she told the city council. When Chief of Police Marie Farbro stepped up to give her monthly report, she said, “In my eyes and in my heart, I feel that my officers are doing a good job. regardless if they are out of the academy or not. How are they going to gain any type of experience if they don’t get the experience? Starting them in a small town is better than starting in a big town. I am with them. I’m sharing my knowledge, but other than that, thats all I have to say.”
In other business, Officer Drennan Rogers presented the proposal of a Police Department K-9 Unit to the council. The department has received a $1,500 donation to this program and a dog was donated by a K-9 academy located in Lender.
This was approved by the council. Officer Rogers is to go to the Canine Academy Training Center just a few miles from Austin on Aug. 22, 2011, to become a K-9 law enforcement officer. It was stated that having a K-9 unit allows the police to search a vehicle without a warrant if they have a K-9 unit.