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Palmer supports police department

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MIKE SACKETT
Ellis County Press
PALMER -'We are in favor of the police department-We think they are doing a good job.' This was the only official comment made by Mayor Marvin Rhoades other than the standard 'No action to be taken as a result of this executive session.' The closed door meeting lasted for three-hours before any statement was made to the estimated crowd of 60 citizens.

The special called meeting, held at Palmer Elementary was called for the council to discuss citizen police issues according to several city staff and citizens. The agenda had one item that simply read 'Executive Session: Consider entering into executive session concerning city personnel.' Details of discussions inside the closed meeting were not released by council members or staff present.

Prior to convening into executive session, former council member Chuck Rhodes called for a point of order to allow several citizens who attended the meeting to address the council. Council members continued into the session without hearing any citizen speakers.

Just as the council was beginning their private session, Jim Bradley spoke to the audience asking them to support the police department by signing a letter of support. The form letter read 'We, [The Citizens of Palmer,Tx.] here-by request any and all, Plans, Conversations and/ or Actions regarding the Police Dept. be tabled until such time as is needed for this Council to become knowledgeable of the internal workings of these depts.'

The letter went on asking the council to appoint a blue-ribbon committee top assist the council with their decision making that would have an effect on the safety and welfare of Palmer citizens.

While waiting for the council to reconvene, several citizens groups commented the meeting was not about the police department the quality of city services. Poor streets and water drainage causing homes to be flooded during recent rains were topics of the informal discussions.

The police department was also a subject criticism concerning stepped up enforcement of I-45.

After meeting over an hour with the council Police Chief Gary Sparks came out of the meeting and spoke to those waiting. Sparks said, 'Thank you all for staying here if you are in support of the Police Department. If you have a problem with my department, I welcome you to come at any time. I have an open door.'

Sparks concluded his comments saying ' I feel good about the meeting - I still have my badge.'

Sparks and his department of five full time, one part time and three reserves have been the subject of criticism from council members and citizens. Frequently the chief has been asked to wear a uniform. Since moving into his office across the street from city hall, a sign was posted on the door saying 'By appointment only'

Many of the citizens who came prepared to speak on several issues concerning services provided by city said they will be at the regular meeting to be held Tuesday night to air their complaints.

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