Burkburnett Mayor Carl Law and Interim City Manager Don Ives said they see Thursday's Board of Commissioners meeting as a chance to move forward. Commissioners will meet in executive session to discuss issues concerning Police Chief Mike Tracey.
Many people in town said they are happy to see city leaders taking some action regarding the PD. The department's image has suffered over several incidents that have recently come to light. These include a lawsuit and charges filed against two former officers.
Commissioners Ted Kwas, Chase Thronton, Josh Andrajack and Raymond Holland all said they see the meeting as a chance to look into past issues, and take action if it's deemed necessary. Mayor Law and Mr. Ives said they want to move ahead.
Mayor Law wanted, first, to clear up some issues with the meeting itself. The meeting was originally scheduled for Monday. The notice for that meeting indicated it would focus on issues of concern to the city manager. But, the notice was re posted Monday, moving the meeting back to Thursday.
Law said the original notice served two purposes. One, since the city charter gives supervision and control of all city departments to the CM, the meeting could have included issues about the PD or any other department. Second, Law said he didn't want Chief Tracey to suffer any undue harm to his reputation as rumors have swirled around town.
But, Law said people in town wanted it publicly known the meeting would focus on the police department. So the agenda was changed. The schedule change, in addition to complying with the 72 hours notice required by law, will also allow Commissioner Charlene Lewis to attend.
Many people in town have expressed concern over actions of the department over the years. Several residents said they fear police in town, others said they and people they know have been hassled.
Law said he simply hasn't heard these kinds of complaints from people, in fact, he said many people he talks to support Chief Tracey.
"Of the 11,000 or so people that live in this town," Law said, "people are not upset with Chief Tracey."
And, Law said he rarely ever gets messages or emails from people in town. If people have concerns over the department, Law said, he wants to hear about it.
Law and Ives both said Tracey has made positive changes to the force over the years. While they acknowledge past problems, they said they want to show the people of Burk progress is being made.
"Let's dwell on what we can do in the future," said Law. "How the city manager and the Board of Commissioners can help the police chief do his job. That's what I want to do."
Thursday's meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at City Hall in Burkburnett.