Mayor Tuttle raps his gavel

An agenda item brought about by Poteet City Council member, Albert Treviño, caused a stir in the March 7 regular city meeting. The agenda item was about whether Poteet Police Chief Bruce Hickman has obtained a Master Peace Officer certification. Treviño alleged the city council and Hickman were in agreement of a requirement to have training complete for that certification within 18 months of Hickman’s hire date.

“On 9-8-2015 I was appointed chief with no stipulations,” said Hickman. “There are no minutes that say otherwise. There was a question posed if I could get my master peace officer license in 12 months but I said no I could try it in 18 and they said okay we will see where you are.”

Council member Denise Sanchez insisted it was in writing and the council had been in agreement. Mayor Richard Tuttle told Sanchez it wasn’t in writing, with Sanchez saying it wasn’t in writing but it was on the recording of that meeting.

Tuttle stated none of that was in writing and the city does not require it either. He clarified by reading the training requirements per TCOLE (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement). Several hours of coursework must be completed to be a certified police chief annually. Hickman has completed 610 hours of training in the last 18 months.

“TCOLE doesn’t say he has to have a master peace officer license, this is just what’s required by the city,” said Treviño.

Tuttle asked Treviño where he found that requirement, to which Treviño responded it was put in the job description when the city was searching for candidates for police chief. Tuttle acknowledged that stipulation may have been in the job description but when the city council hired Hickman they did so aware he had not acquired the master peace officer certification.

Treviño mentioned he didn’t have anything personal against Hickman. Hickman then disputed that comment by saying he knew he did because Treviño had in fact applied for the job of police chief but was not chosen.

Treviño expressed he was not yet serving on city council when Hickman was hired and was just going by what was written as policy. The policy Treviño continued to bring up is in fact only a job description written in the original job posting. Rosalinda De La Fuente and Denise Sanchez are the only two current members of the city council who were serving when Hickman was hired. Sanchez agreed it was in fact she who had hired him.

“But then you’re trying to say that we lied. But, no we had an agreement and it was not in the minutes. I don’t know why it wasn’t on the minutes but it should have been that you were going to get these hours and you know that,” said Sanchez.

Hickman responded to D. Sanchez by mentioning he had been asked a question and he answered it.

“When y’all came out here, y’all voted to hire me and when y’all did it there was no stipulation added and that is not my fault,” said Hickman.

“So, you knew how to play the system then,” responded D. Sanchez as citizens in the audience gasped. “Right now he’s an administrative chief of police, right? He’s an administrator, right? Didn’t you say that you’re an administrator chief of police,” questioned Sanchez.

Sanchez then stated that the city could then hire a new chief of police since they only have an administrative chief of police. Nicholas Sanchez disagreed with the agenda item and stressed it was getting out of hand.

“It’s not about liking him. It’s not about that. I was the one that hired him and gave him the benefit of the doubt,” said D. Sanchez.

N. Sanchez elaborated that besides not achieving master peace officer Hickman has managed to achieve all of the other requirements in TCOLE. Denise held she has nothing against the chief or anyone and feels things like this are being abused.

The tension between Denise and Nicholas came to light as Nicholas asked what was being abused besides the council not taking responsibility. Denise said Nicholas really didn’t want to know and then went on to charge that he has always gone after her. Tuttle then used his gavel to bring the meeting back to order.

“Nobody is coming after anybody. This is a discussion pure and simple. Nobody is pointing fingers at anybody other than pointing to the chief,” said Tuttle.

“As I say, we make these mistakes. Not him, not them, not you…the council,” said N. Sanchez. “We just need to be more organized when it comes to stuff like this because this is the result.”

The mayor and city secretary went back through the meeting archives and searched where a stipulation for the chief had been made or if it was written in any documents and recorded meeting minutes. They have confirmed to the Pleasanton Express nothing was found in the city’s records or files.

Council member Rosalinda De La Fuente then asked city attorney Bobby Maldonado if the council could then convene into executive session so that she could ask him a few questions. Upon returning, D. Sanchez made a motion to table the item with De La Fuente seconding the motion. Treviño voted for and Estella Rocha and N. Sanchez voted against the motion. The item has been tabled until next month’s regular meeting of the Poteet City Council on Tues., April 4.

 

Editor’s Note: An individual city council member does not act alone in hiring city employees. City employees are hired at a city council by way of a vote made by the city council members.

 

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