One New Llano resident during Tuesday’s pre-council meeting expressed concerns surrounding the lack of police officers patrolling her neighborhood.
Shirley Taylor, bound to a wheelchair, said she has screwed her windows shut in order to prevent a second home invasion. “I pray to God you aren’t going to find me as a statistic if the fire department ever has to come out,” she said to the town council.
Since the New Llano Police Department was drastically downgraded in January, Taylor alleges several items have been stolen from her yard.
She also claimed she recently experienced a home invasion when she and her son left one day in the car. She said her daughter was still at home when someone entered through a window.
“We’re in some real need for police officers to do patrols and come by so that people can see them back in the community,” Taylor said. “We need those interactions so they are visible.”
Mayor Freddie Boswell directed Taylor to New Llano Police Chief Danny Hunt with her concerns. “You need to be discussing that with the Chief,” Boswell said. “It is his responsibility, his job – not the council’s.
“I don’t want you all thinking that I don’t want to hire police officers. I would love to hire more officers.”
Boswell asked Hunt to come forward. “This is the man right here that can tell you why we can’t hire more officers,” he said.
Hunt explained he has not yet hired, or re-hired, police officers due to a lack of funding.
The meeting agenda indicated council would vote on whether or not to add four police officers to the department.
The first was a proposal to rehire Jamie Moore as a fulltime patrol officer at a rate of $14 per hour, to start April 25.
At Hunt’s recommendation in January, Moore was originally intended to keep his position during the department cuts. He offered to continue to working, but as a reserve officer. He wanted to give his paid position to Officer Alex Vasquez who is currently the one remaining officer.
In an interview with the Leesville Daily Leader in March, Moore said his offer to work as a police officer for New Llano was turned down by Boswell for unknown reasons.
The other three police department-related items on Tuesday’s agenda were to hire three reserve officers – Henry Finnie, Brandon Lyons and Richard Clark.
Hunt came forward to discuss hiring officers. He suggested tabling the decision until he is able to review the police department budget. Hunt says he has never seen the budget even though he is supposed to be in charge of it. “I don’t want to say I’ll hire somebody and then in a month we can’t pay ‘em,” Hunt said.
“You won’t get the budget until the end of May,” Boswell said. “There’s no money to hire anybody.
“What we are willing to do is meet with you and discuss how this can be paid; how it can be done.
“I know what you put in this newspaper. I know all that. But you know none of that is true.”
Hunt replied, “It’s the total truth.”
“Let bygones be bygones and sit down and see what we can come up with,” Boswell said.
They made a plan to meet on Friday to discuss finances.