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Hallsville reinstates terminated police chief, officers

By Robyn Claridy rclaridy@news-journal.com
Jan. 17, 2012 at 10 p.m.


HALLSVILLE - The Hallsville City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday

night to reinstate police officers terminated in December, while

the officers hired to replace them are out of jobs.

Council members, along with Mayor Jerri Medrano and the city

attorney, were in closed session from 6:15 until 9 p.m. Tuesday

before the vote.

HALLSVILLE - The Hallsville City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday night to reinstate police officers terminated in December, while the officers hired to replace them are out of jobs.

Council members, along with Mayor Jerri Medrano and the city attorney, were in closed session from 6:15 until 9 p.m. Tuesday before the vote.

Voting to reinstate the officer were John Burciaga, Kevin Jones and Jeffrey Griffith. James Mizell and Doris Coleman voted against it.

Police Chief Greg Scott, Sgt. Mack Fuller and officer T.C. Livingston were terminated Dec. 28 by Medrano. The lone remaining officer, Earl Dykes, resigned in the middle of his shift that same night.

Without further explanation, Medrano has said the officers were terminated for violating city policies. She had no comment Tuesday night about the council's vote.

Since the December firings, the city hired Lukas Reynolds as chief and also hired Shane Guthrie and Paul Montoya as officers.

This past week, Robert Perkins, who worked as a reserve deputy with the Harrison County Sheriff's Office, was hired for the final officer position.

Before Tuesday night's vote, more than 100 people at the meeting chanted "Re-in-state! Re-in-state!" in support of the terminated officers.

Hallsville City Hall was filled with applause after the vote was announced.

Resident Carolyn Franco said she was pleased with the council's decision.

"I am overwhelmed," Franco said. "And this shows to the police department and the city that the police department matters."

However, resident Rita Burk said she disagrees with the reinstatement of the officers.

"For us to say the mayor didn't do her job ... she's trustworthy, honest and works feverishly for this city," Burk said. "We came here for answers. I want to know why this happened."

Attorney Andy Stinson, who represents the terminated officers, said his clients were just excited to get their jobs back.

"They made the right decision," Stinson said. "They are very appreciative of those who came out to show support today."

Before the vote, Mark Churchill, a former councilman, told the crowd and city officials that all four years he was on the council, he never heard any complaints about the officers.

"But 48 hours after those officers were terminated, I had 150 or more phone calls about what happened," Churchill said.

Churchill also questioned why Medrano fired the officers without the council's consent.

"I don't think any one person should have the right to hire and fire. These people deserve their jobs back, because they have helped us in many ways. If they don't get their jobs back, the next election should weigh heavily," Churchill said.

He noted that it would have taken a severe offense to fire all of the officers.

Franco, who works as a volunteer firefighter in Hallsville, said she worked with the officers professionally and never had a problem with them.

"These guys deserve their jobs back. I know them in a professional capacity, and they have always gone above and beyond what they were supposed to do," Franco said.

Franco is one of the organizers of a Facebook group called Operation Save Hallsville Police Department, which has gained hundreds of followers.

She also has been circulating a petition to reinstate the officers, which she said has 275 signatures.

Hallsville resident Danielle King said she thought the mayor's decision to terminate the officers was wrong.

"This city doesn't operate without Mack Fuller, T.C. Livingston, Greg Scott and Earl Dykes," King said. "We want their jobs reinstated. Our community will go down without them."

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