Advisory board chair wants PA police officer fired

Published 11:08 am Saturday, March 3, 2018

The chair of the Port Arthur Police Advisory Board would like to see the Port Arthur Police Department terminate an officer with the Port Arthur Police Association for some remarks he made in reference to Police Chief Patrick Melvin.

Chairman Reginald Trainer made the comments at the PAPAB’s regular meeting Tuesday night of the Port Arthur City Council. He described the board as bridging the gap between citizens and the police department.

He said comments made by Sgt. Chris Billiot at a PAPA meeting on Jan. 18 were “disturbing news” and threatened the chief.

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Billiot allegedly said, “Chief is bleeding and we should step on his neck and cut his head off.”

Melvin wrote in a memo he viewed the comment as a threat and illegal.

The memo’s final paragraph, apparently written by the chief, said Melvin viewed the situation as threatening and fears for the safety of his family.

He then requested the Texas Rangers conduct an investigation into the credibility of the threat.

“I have a problem with that,” Trainer said. “If he (Billiot) feels that way about the chief he may feel that way about the community. The chief lives here. He’s a citizen now.

“I’m dissatisfied with this. Why has it been 39 days and the officer has not come forward? Out of the mouth comes what the heart feels.”

Trainer said he doesn’t feel comfortable with this officer on the police force because if he doesn’t respect his boss, he won’t respect citizens.

“The city is trying to change and move forward. No disciplinary action speaks badly about our city,” he said.

In other city news, the Council approved the designation of Opportunity Zones for all eligible Census tracts with the city of Port Arthur.

Mayor Derrick Freeman described them as market tax credits.

Opportunity Zones are a new community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide.

The Opportunity Zones program provides a tax incentive for investors to reinvest their unrealized capital gains into Opportunity Funds that are dedicated to investing into Opportunity Zones designated by the chief executives of each state.

Port Arthur is trying to land an Envision Center demonstration from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Cele Quesada, director of the Port Arthur Housing Authority, said the program is incentivized toward self-sufficiency and home ownership. He added that it’s not so much financial assistance as it is a spirit of cooperation. Families who participate should become more productive.

Faith Linton, with HUD, said it’s an amazing opportunity.

“Students will embark on a pipeline effect from elementary school to high school to transition to self-sufficiency,” she said.

Linton also mentioned Place Base Locations which are places for students to continue their education after school.

“A lot of low income kids don’t have that outlet to capitalize on continued engagement,” Linton said. “We can pool local resources or use those from the outside. It’s a win-win situation.”

Lindton believes the program would have a twofold effect: businesses may want to build communities here and it will be good for the kids who live here.

She said HUD wants public housing to be a transition period for families and not a permanent thing.

“The new administration is seeing a cut to the budget to bring in private dollars and probably get the same outcome,” she said.