2011-02-17 / Front Page

Council Appoints Committee to hear Grievances Against Police

The Lexington City Council met in regular session with the full council in attendance last Wednesday. More than fifty citizens were there primarily to hear discussions, both in support of and against the Lexington Police Department.

Austin’s KXAN television station had a reporter and a camera man also at the meeting. The TV station has been to Lexington a number of times over the last few weeks to meet with several people who have complaints against the department. KXAN told the Mayor that they would not be airing their report at this time, but may air it at a later date.

There was so much said at this meeting, with some of the speakers talking for twenty minutes or more, we have tried to summarize the main points of each speaker’s message. We apologize in advance if we did not cover all the points each person made.

There were only two people on the agenda to speak about the LPD. They were Don Chrisner and former Lexington police officer Jimmy Fritcher. However, seven people spoke under Citizen Input.

Julian Moore, a former Colorado County Attorney, spoke well of Police Chief Randy Davenport, whom he had hired years before to handle an investigation for a case he was working on.

Sam Scoggins spoke against the LPD, claiming racial profiling and abuse of authority by overzealous police officers.

Zaid Kussad, a local business man, said he had nothing but help from the police department. He said he had witnessed a lot of interaction between the police and people in his parking lot who were either drunk or using drugs, during which he had seen the police officers spit at or kicked, but who still handled their job in a professional manner. He presented the Council with an 8- page petition that had 144 signatures on it in support of the Chief of Police.

Buddy Stamport spoke in support of the Police Department, as did Melanie Salomon, who said the police were always there when she had to open very early or close very late at her place of business, making her feel safe.

Michelle Chrisner spoke against the Chief of Police, saying that he was unprofessional as a police chief and that she had been followed by his officers and felt harassed by them.

Bob Cary was the last to speak during Citizen Input. He is a reserve officer for the department and he said as a reserve officer he is not paid and that if the city police department was that bad, he would not be working here.

Donald Chrisner was the first person on the agenda to speak about concerns and complaints he has with the police department. He said his family had been followed and harassed by the police department, including his grandson, his daughter and himself. Chrisner questioned the validity of the signatures on the petition that supported the police and stated that he had 20 letters of complaints against the police, which he did not present to the Council at that time.

Council member Tony Tavary spoke concerning the letters and said they had been presented to the Texas Rangers and the FBI and understood that there were no grounds for action against the department.

Chrisner said he himself had taken the letters to the FBI and they told him that the type of harassment mentioned in the letters was hard to prove.

At this time the Mayor called for discussion or action by the Council and William Langehennig made the motion to put a committee together to investigate complaints. Lori Barnikow seconded the motion. All voted for.

Then, former Lexington police officer Jimmy Fritcher spoke to the Council about concerns and complaints he has with the police department. He said that he was asked to resign, without proper cause. He said he saw his personnel records and that documentation of reports of complaints against him were not in the file. He also said Chief Davenport did not properly investigate a burglary that took place at Savanna Park Apartments; that police training for the department was not good and, although he had no proof, he thought police records and information were being kept at Chief Davenport’s house. According to Fritcher, the LPD is not respected by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Lexington VFD or the Lexington EMS.

Mayor Robert Willrich, Sr. announced this week that a Committee has been formed to look in to the allegations against the police department. Serving on that committee will be Council members William Langehennig and Tim Brown, along with citizens Kerry Quinney, Angela Brower and Angela Stinnet. The committee was instructed to post their meetings at City Hall ahead of time to allow for public input. They are to meet once a week for the next 30 days and report back to the City Council. Then the Mayor will call a Special City Council Meeting to meet with the Police Chief and two officers in Executive Session.

We encourage your letters to the editor. If you have something to say regarding this issue, keep it to 250 words and send it to us at editor@lexingtonleader.com. Letters that are not signed will not be published.

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