March 4, 2013
TEXAS CITY - There is unrest in the Texas City Police Department and according to at least half the officers below the command level, the morale is low, there is perceived favoritism by commanders, the loss of manpower on the streets is placing the officers and the public in danger, and there are excessive and unnecessary internal investigations of officers.
This is the general consensus of 44 Texas City police officers who participated recently in a survey commissioned by the Texas City Municipal Police Association and conducted by the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) one of the largest law enforcement associations in Texas. The department employs 97 total officers including supervisors and command level officers.
In light of recent firings of police officers by Police Chief Robert Burby and other disiciplinary actions by he and his command staff, the TCMPA, a CLEAT affiliated officer organization, called for the survey of it's officers. The results were presented to the TCMPA membership in a powerpoint presentation by CLEAT Wednesday night.
The 235 page report had already been sent to Mayor Matthew T. Doyle.
In it's assessement of the survey, CLEAT concluded that to optimally serve the community at large, there needs to be greater accountability of the command staff. Actions taken by the Chief and upper command need to be less retaliative and more open to feedback from the officers.
There is a need to build morale and increase job satisfaction through the use of accountability, an open door policy and employee recognition which is nonpartisan, fair and equitable.
There is a need for more consistent and enhanced communication across ALL levels of the TCPD.
To create a fair work environment and to improve morale, there needs to be communication of job-related criteria used for all selection decisions, especially promotions, which are explained to and understood by all.
Officer's who agreed to take the survey anonymously, were also invited to include their personal comments.
One of them wrote, "I am scared to do my job because our Administration (the Chief, Captain Stanton, Captain Clements, and Sgt. Pope) are vindictive and retaliate against those that have differences of opinions against their views. They play favortism and the NARC / FIT Team can do no wrong. They are a protected class, which creates alot of anomosity from the other rank and file members of the department."
Another said, "I've been a police officer for over 20 years now, and I have never seen the morale at this place so low. It's seriously in a crisis mode here!"
Still another officer commented, "I think the black officers are not treated the same as the white officers. If a black officer does the same policy violation as a white officer then the black officer will receive a write up and or suspention where the white officer will most likly receive a verball warning. I feel really sorry for Officer Reynolds who is a 47 year old black officer and has been a very good officer for the last 4 years and have been discriminated and harassmed over policy violations that normally required verbal or written but he received suspensions. Lately only black officers have been getting fired...Officer Reynolds in my opinion has been punished and mistreated".
Another comment from an officer read, "The way this department has changed over the past two years has made me feel that I need to apply for a different department. I feel that I am very qualified for my job and make good and sound decisions, but with the policy written the way it is, and enforced the way administration decides, I feel that I can not work without fear of being filed on for absolutely nothing. With leadership changes, this could be an envied department to work for again."
"Due to the fact that the chief is African American he treats black males under his commnad in a very harsh manner.
I feel this survey is only going to make things worse for me and my family.. I just work here but now I am having to deal with this internal conflict.. I hope we can come to a peaceful resolution."
"I personally feel as if the Narc Team should be disbanded and placed back on Patrol."
Favoritism was a sore subject to several of the officers. One wrote, "I feel favoritisim among Sgt. Pope, Cpl. Flores, the F.I.T. team or N.A.R.C. team and its members is more that apparent and more prevalent that other areas of the department. I understand that on some level, favoritisim in every aspect of life exists, but, when it becomes unprofessional and apparent violations of policy, and even possibly laws are ignored, it becomes aggrecious in my opinion."
Another said, "Too much time and too many meeting on things other than police work!! Need to get back to basics, enough policies and committees."
This officer pleaded for help, "TCPD used to be a desired department to work for, but now instead of applicants, we get laughed at due to our childish and immature ways of our administration. Our patrolmen and women do their jobs to the best of their ability seeing how much stress the department itself brings. PLEASE HELP!"
Out of touch, said another, "Chief Robert Burby and Captain Joe Stanton are out of touch with their officers. A "closed door" policy, class warfare, and the chief's motto of "get them on policy violations now and dirty them up later" is no way to run a successful and productive department. I have been employed with the police department for several years, and this is the lowest I have ever seen morale. This all seems to have started after an officer won a grievance against the city. After this particular grievance the IA investigations multiplied ten-fold. There have been more IA investigations against officers in the past 8 months than the past 8 years. There is something terribly wrong when an officer is investigated for not updating an extra job form, but another officer (all members of the FIT team) can cause unjustified bodily injury to a citizen and not so much as an eyebrow is raised. The FIT team is out of control, and the chief allows it."
A 10-year veteran said, "I have been at TCPD for over 10 years and this is the lowest morale I have seen. Favoritism, positions taken from patrol for other gig positions are being done, people are being harassed, we do not have any leadership at the chief level and patrol, patrol captain has yelled in the hallway in front of officers and dispatchers when it was not called for, and officers giving up information to advance in the department. They do not go by experience/senority and see officers that speak out about the problems of the PD to be just a discruntled employee. I have seen favortism at its best. I could go on more but??"
An officer complained of one of the Captains, "This department was a good place to work prior to Stantons promotion. Ever since Stanton became a Capt this department has been a place that breeds negativity."
Chief Burby is capable, BUT, this officer wrote. "Chief Burby is very capable of leading this department forward. But I feel he is being led from within by various retaliatory, bias, and subjective individuals for their own goals and purpose. I feel that this has led the Chief to be undermined by all at this department. If he has no hand in the goings-on with this department he is blind, corrupt, or doesn't care about his troops. I feel that the body is leading the snake. I believe that if you get on the wrong side of someone here they will find a way to fire you or ruin your credibility even by civil service by making up claims and filing false IA's (Internal Affairs Investigation) without complainants. I am dissatisfied with my job, Chief, Mayor, and feel that nothing can be done at our lower level. I feel as if I'm at will and they are trying to run it in the ground and see who is left after the smoke clears . This survey is like shooting BB's at a battleship, fun, but uneffective."
Contacted by The Police News, Chief Robert Burby said, "I really don't comment on things like that. I've been chief here for 8 1/2 years and I look forward to coming to work everyday."
Burby said his department is doing a good job. "Our crime numbers are down. Our department takes the lead in many investigations involving other departments and many other's look to us for leadership."
Chief Burby represents police chiefs on the board of the Texas Municipal League and serves on the board of the Texas Police Chief's Association. He deferred comment on this story to Mayor Matthew Doyle.
The Police News called Mayor Doyle's office but our call went to voice mail and was not returned.
This is undoubtedly not going to be the end of this story. It came to The Police News in 235 pages.