Police association at odds with chief over meeting

Published 6:29 pm Monday, March 5, 2018

A weekend Facebook post by the Port Arthur Police Association slams Chief Patrick Melvin and one of his executive staff for spreading untruths during a community meeting a little over a week ago.

The meeting, held at the Lakeside/Palomar Community Center near the Port Acres area, addressed several topics, one of which was an uptrend in thefts and burglaries in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey as many are still displaced from their homes.

According to the union’s post, a member of the chief’s executive staff said he noticed the spike in crime about two months ago and more officers were deployed to combat this.

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“However, he also said the Department has utilized patrol overtime in the affected area for 1.5 months and that these overtime officers were used ‘specifically’ to search the affected area for burglars and other criminals,” the Facebook post stated. “He also mentioned that these overtime officers have made between 10 and 30 traffic and pedestrian stops per night. None of this is true.”

The association contends the city has not placed extra patrols in this area of the city and the reported comment about 10 to 30 traffic and pedestrian stops per night is unfounded and that no special or extra burglary patrols were utilized.

Other issues the association believes were untrue or half-truths include the hiring of two part-time secretaries to assist detectives with calling back citizens regarding cases.

The PAPA said only one part-time person was hired; the chief reportedly state there are 12 officer vacancies but the union says the officers are in training including three who are still in the police academy and haven’t passed the state licensing exam to be police officers.

In addition, PAPA contends that a patrol officer left the department to fill a regular investigator position at the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office, not a ‘highly trained detective,’ as the chief reportedly stated, going to a position in a special unit.

Lastly, the association still asserts the lack of leadership on Melvin’s part during Harvey.

The chief gave The News a simple answer when presented questions about the association’s grievances.

“I am looking forward to our department healing.  There is a lot of police work to accomplish in the city, our citizens are depending on us,” Melvin said in an email statement to The News.

Late last year the PAPA issued a vote of no confidence against Melvin.