PALESTINE — Whether or not Palestine Police Chief Robert Herbert will be dismissed from his position with the department is still up in the air following a turbulent evening of public tension and testimony in which emotions tended to boil over.
Following a three-hour closed session, council members motioned to authorize the city manager to publish a press release “describing of the actions that the city council plans to pursue.” No vote was taken on the renewal of Herbert's contract.
It was standing room only during the regular meeting of the Palestine City Council Monday, the longest meeting year-to-date by the time the governing body discussed issues touched on by 20 individuals — four in favor, 16 opposed — concerning Herbert’s place in the department.
Mayor Therrell Thomas opened the meeting in prayer and asked God for wisdom before attendants who had requested to speak — which included legal officials, members of local law enforcement and others — were called forward.
First to speak was Herbert’s personal pastor, Joseph Williams II of South Fort Worth Baptist Fellowship.
Williams spoke in favor of Herbert’s position, stating he was a man of “of integrity, of honesty and deep commitment” who sought to build positive relations between law enforcement and members of the community.
“He’s a man of responsibility, of character, who believes in accountability,” Williams said. “But as Christians we know, when you’re involved in serving others, sometimes there are challenges.”
Andrew Stinson, an attorney with the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA), seemed to think that in this case, the only challenges worth noting were the ones officers had faced under the current leadership.
Stinson referenced a survey that was conducted by TMPA in May, which polled current police officers and civilian employees on a number of issues concerning the department’s management and overall effectiveness.