Goliad ISD Super-intendent Emilio Vargas III spoke to the council about the school district’s interlocal agreement with Goliad County providing an SRO, which will expire Sept. 30 if GISD and the county can’t overcome their contractual stalemate.
One solution, Vargas said, would be if the city created its own police department and worked an agreement with Goliad ISD to provide an SRO.
“We have other options to us, but we’d rather work within the confines of our own community,” Vargas said. “The cost of the SRO to the county of Goliad has not been one penny. We pay the retirement, insurance and salary.”
Mayor Jay Harvey said there had been discussion of creating a police department long before the county and GISD came to an impasse over the SRO issue.
“I know some of us have talked about for a while now and it may be time to look into it,” Harvey said.
“We had a lot of burglaries that happened for a little while,” Harvey said. “Nothing against the sheriff’s office, but they’ve got their plate full. When you have a couple of deputies on duty and you have an incident way out in Schroeder, that leaves us sitting here without any officer patrolling.”
Council members appeared split on the idea of the city creating its own police department.
Councilman Buddy Zavesky said the cost of creating a police department would be too much of a burden on the taxpayers.
“We’ll have to pay officers’ salaries, officers’ equipment, automobiles, insurance, guns and office personnel,” Zavesky said. “We don’t have enough room here, so we’ll have to find another building.
“What kind of revenue will we get out of a police department? I don’t want us to become another (speed trap like) Kendleton or Selma.”
“What does it cost to keep your citizens safe?” Harvey answered.
Goliad hasn’t had a police department since 1985.
“Things have changed since the 1980’s,” Harvey said. “We have a lot more folks coming through this community coming from Laredo to Houston. We have some pretty bad individuals coming through this community. I can’t think of a city our size that doesn’t have a police department. ... I think it’s time for one.”
Zavesky said he didn’t like the city to be forced to provide a solution for the school district and county not being able to reach an agreement.
“I don’t they need to hamstring the city’s people again with more taxes. I have nothing against the SRO. I just know those two entities cannot get together and that’s bad because we pay more county taxes inside the city for stuff we don’t get. We pay for the sheriff’s office and EMS. Now we want the city to come back and throw more money back into the budget, which will mean we’ll have to tighten up on streets and whatever.”
“Let’s look into it and check it out before we talk about being tight with the street department and all that stuff,” Councilman Lionel Garcia said.
Harvey said Goliad County Sheriff Kirby Brumby told him the city could use the county jail and dispatch services.
“And at no charge?” Zevesky asked Harvey.
“There will be a charge,” Councilman Ed Carter said.
Precinct 1 Deputy Constable Daniel San Miguel spoke to the council and said GCSO can’t enforce city ordinances that a police department would have the authority to do.
“On my radio on July 4, a lady called in and there was a person right near the sheriff’s office blowing up fireworks,” San Miguel said. “The deputy told the dispatcher to tell the caller to contact a city council member, because it’s a city ordinance and we can’t enforce it.”
San Miguel asked the city council who in the city enforces city ordinances.
Zavesky said city secretary Pam Long is authorized to send out letters to suspected violators, who must appear within 10 days or face possible court action.
“The problem with that is if you have somebody blowing up fireworks, they’re not going to wait for a letter to come in the mail before they quit doing it,” Harvey said.
“When you have the deputies out chasing cows in the county and somebody breaks into a home here in the city, who are you supposed to call? City council?” San Miguel said. “This town is completely unprotected. If somebody goes to the Circle K and robs it, are you going to send that robber a letter in the mail?”
Former Mayor Hernan Jaso said he supports the city having its own police department. He said he helped initiate the creation of a Goliad PD in the 1970’s.
“The county was no enforcing our ordinances and most of the time wouldn’t even answer the calls,” Jaso said. “We relied on the Golden Crescent Planning Commission and were issued grants for law enforcement. Law enforcement agencies throughout the region came to our side. DPS has a warehouse full of cars that are available through grants. ... There are ways of doing this.”
Zavesky suggested the council study police department’s from other cities in the region similar in size of Goliad.
The Advance-Guard could not reach Brumby for comment by Monday’s press deadline.