By Sheila Hatfield / The Ellis County Press
FERRIS – Ferris Police Chief Eddie Salazar defended his requests for more officers and Taser devices for officers at the Tuesday, Sept. 4 council meeting/budget workshop.
“We really need to have more officers to keep everybody safe,” said Salazar, after presenting a 2017 Law Enforcement Officer Fatality Report to council.
“The leading circumstances of firearms-related fatalities were officers responding to domestic disturbances and conducting traffic stops,” stated the report,
“There were 128 law enforcement line-of-duty deaths in 2017.”
Salazar said two officers were needed to respond to calls and, at the time, he only has himself, one investigator, one sergeant, and eight patrol officers to fill two shifts daily.
He said the sergeant had to help with the investigations of three cold cases temporarily and he and the investigator have had to fill in on the street.
“The sergeant has to supervise one of two shifts and by himself on Saturday and Sunday,” said Salazar.
Councilwoman Sherie Chapman said, “I’m for you Chief. You shouldn’t have to stand up there and justify it.
“We don’t need to nit-pick, just like we need fire protection.”
She brought up the recent home that burned down behind the Ferris E-Z Mart.
Realtor Sharon Harris had spoken to council earlier in the public comments section to tell them more firefighters were needed for the house fire and officers were needed for recent construction sites broken into.
“You have my complete trust,” said Chapman. She accused Councilmen Bobby Lindsey and Jay Walsh of wanting to get rid of the chief, referencing the recent Jonathan Hope complaint.
Hope had formerly filed complaints against the two for allegedly trying to enlist him in a scheme to get rid of Chief Salazar.
“I will fight for these officers (and firefighters),” Chapman continued. Councilman Hunter expressed concern of what would happen once the host fees from Waste Management go away.
“I’m not asking for that – I’m just asking for an officer,” said Salazar,
“I can’t be there 24/7, I work Christmas so my officers can be home and have Christmas with their families, just like you.”
“You want two officers, but I don’t understand why you need another investigator,” said Lindsey.
“OMG – he’s not asking for that,” said Chapman.
Jordan said two officers, three firefighters and the Tasers were included in the workshop version of the budget.
Salazar said the extra officer would be court certified as well.
In other action, the 2017-18 tax rate was approved to remain the same – no increase. Jordan projected he city would see an increase in taxes collected, but not from a rate increase.
It would come from construction of new homes with higher values, the current auditors were approved, not to exceed $35,000, and there was discussion concerning water quality, the cost of new water meters and whether Dallas water could be obtained through Wilmer.