Burk Commissioners Stand Behind Police Chief

Burkburnett City Commissioners are standing behind their police chief. The Burk Board of Commissioners unanimously gave Police Chief Mike Tracey a vote of confidence Thursday night.

The board met in executive session to discuss recent issues that have surfaced concerning the PD. In just around 90 minutes, they reconvened unified.

Recent issues surrounding the police department include a lawsuit and charges against two former officers. Commissioners said many of the issues stem from past practices of micro management and Chief Tracey has done much to improve the department.

"That variable has been taken out of the equation," said Commissioner Chase Thornton, "and it's time for a new beginning."

That variable, said Thornton, is former City Manager Mike Slye. Thornton said Slye had a style that may have been too restricting for Tracey. Thornton attributes that to Slye's military-like leadership style. That, said Thornton, doesn't necessarily work in civilian life.

Mayor Carl Law said Wednesday, the focus should be on the City Manager's position, not the Chief's. When asked if he was also referring to Slye, Law said he won't comment on the past as it is time for the city to move forward. Law added "it's been a great night for Burkburnett."

After the meeting, commissioners thanked Chief Tracey for his service. Several mentioned policy changes Tracey has implemented that are improving conditions within the department.

Tracey said he has changed hiring, training and promotion policies and the department is working toward becoming a certified training facility. That, he said, should add a level of consistency to the force.

Commissioner Ted Kwas became so choked up during the meeting, he had trouble talking. Afterwards he said it was because he's so happy to see the city and the board standing together.

Mayor Law said Wednesday he hoped the meeting would be an opportunity to put the past behind the city and move forward. Thursday night, the entire board showed that's exactly what they intend to do.

Tim Barnosky, Newschannel 6.