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Hallsville police chief resigns; officials to name replacement tonight

By Sherry Koonce
July 16, 2012 at 11 p.m.

HALLSVILLE - After being mired in controversy the past six months, Hallsville Police Chief Greg Scott has resigned.

City aldermen are expected to swear in a new police chief tonight after Scott resigned the position two weeks ago, said Hallsville Mayor Jerri Medrano.

Taking Scott's place is Paul Montoya, a former Longview police officer who joined the Hallsville force in January.

Medrano said Scott resigned after he was evaluated in late June. Scott was demoted to patrolman based on the results of the evaluation, Medrano said.

Rather than accept the demotion, the longtime chief chose to leave the force, she said.

Medrano said Scott had difficulty supervising his staff and did not want to work traffic while patrolling.

Scott's departure came after months of controversy surrounding the department.

In December, the mayor fired Scott and two officers, Mack Fuller and T.J. Livingston. The Council hired them back on a 3-2 vote the following month.

This past month Scott reported how the department planned to implement sweeping recommendations made in the Texas Police Chiefs Association evaluation report issued in February.

Newly-elected Alderman Tim Hatten, said Monday it was his opinion the mayor's initial decision to fire Scott should have been upheld.

"The only pressure we put on anyone was for them to do their job. Looking at everything that there was for us to look at, I think there was some room for improvement," Hatten said.

After Scott was rehired by the council, he was given a set of standards to meet, but failed to meet them, Hatten said.

Medrano said Scott's leaving was a mutual decision, and that there were no hard feelings.

"We talked about it, and he just did not perform when he came back. He just did not have his heart in it. It was time, it was just time and I think he will find something he is more suited for," Medrano said.

Documents obtained through a News-Journal open records request and published in March showed that prior to the dismissals, Medrano repeatedly warned Scott he was too close to his officers to discipline them and that one officer was acting inappropriately with women while on duty.

The documents also revealed the mayor directed the chief to order officers to curtail working private security side jobs while on duty with the police department.

Eric Anderson, another of the city's new aldermen, said he expected Montoya to do a good job as Hallsville's new police chief.

"If you look at Officer Montoya's record, it speaks for itself. He is very goal oriented," Anderson said. "It is more important for us to move forward. Our focus is not what has happened behind us, but where we go forward," Anderson said.

Montoya is set to be sworn in at Hallsville's 6 p.m. meeting today.

In other matters, the council is expected to name members to the newly-forming Downtown Beautification and Development Board. Members will be charged with developing a plan to beautify the city.

Also to be considered is lowering speed limits in two Hallsville subdivisions. In Timber Ridge subdivision, the speed limit would be lowered from 30 mph to 25 mph. In Rutland Place, the limit would decrease from 30 mph to 20 mph.

Medrano said residents in the neighborhoods had been surveyed and most agree with the need for lower limits because of the number of children and people walking for exercise.

The council will also consider an ordinance designating the city secretary as the city's public information officer, and CenterPoint Energy's intent to increase rates effective Aug. 6.



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