PALESTINE — In a vote that cleared 5-2, the Palestine City Council sealed the fate of Palestine Police Chief Robert Herbert on Monday following a motion made by City Manager Wendy Ellis to terminate him from his position as chief of the department.
The council’s decision came stacked on top of two weeks of council meetings, a torrent of public outcry and complaints springing from within the department regarding Herbert's performance as a leader.
“I have taken action to terminate the Chief of Police contingent upon approval from city council,” Ellis told attendants — an announcement that came following a closed session of nearly two hours and regular meeting in which 18 members of the public spoke, more than half in reference to issues regarding the situation with the police department.
These issues have been circling over council members’ heads since their June 9 meeting — when the governing panel heard the first round of public testimony regarding the chief. That night, the council entered into closed session to discuss presented topics, and again on June 16, which led to a 4-3 council vote advising Ellis to terminate Herbert from his position.
During Monday's meeting, the council entered into their final closed session to discuss “the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of the Chief of Police,” according to the agenda.
The council entered closed session at 7:02 p.m. and reconvened at 8:48 p.m. Council members Vickey Chivers of District 3 and Vernon Denmon of District 2 voted in opposition of Ellis' motion.
Prior to the decision, the council heard from members of the public on what was becoming the familiar round of testimony regarding issues in the police department.
Palestine resident James Smith directed attention back to the council and current city manager, stating the governing body never should have allowed personnel issues in the police department to be “aired out” in public — like dirty laundry.