Fired Lacy-Lakeview police chief cries foul


Former Lacy Lakeview Police Chief Jeron Barnett says he was unfairly fired this month without notice after two years on the job.

“I spoke out that the city manager created a hostile work environment for me and then called me on April 3rd and fired me, without any performance documentation or written counseling,” Barnett said Thursday in a telephone interview.


Jeron Barnett, provided

Barnett said he submitted a letter to the city clerk the last week of March documenting some conversations he had with City Manager Calvin Hodde and complaining that Hodde was creating a hostile work environment for him. He said Hodde fired him without a city council vote, or even an executive session.

“Mayor Necey Payne objected to my firing, but the city manager said it was his decision,” Barnett said. Payne could not immediately be reached Thursday.

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Jerry Larson, Tribune-Herald

Hodde, who became city manager in 2022 after serving as council and mayor from 1998 to 2019, could not be reached for comment Thursday. Lacy Lakeview Public Works Director Andy Moore said the city would not comment or explain Barnett's firing.

The Texas Law Enforcement Commission requires that before police officers can be fired, they must be trained, given written performance counseling, investigated and given an opportunity to explain themselves. to his superiors.

Lacy Lakeview is a self-governing city with a councilor-manager form of government, 53 city employees and a population of about 7,300. The city elects a mayor and six councillors. It has a 21-person police department and a volunteer fire department.

Barnett said he asked the city clerk to save the letter because he wanted to give the situation time to develop. Instead, he was fired.

Barnett provided the Tribune-Herald with a letter documenting that he asked for a contract with the city and an increase in his salary commensurate with what Hodde received. It also explains that previous City Manager Keith Bond conducted an investigation into Barnett's performance after his seventh month in the role in the summer of 2022 and found that former city officials were trying to fire Barnett for false reasons.

Hodde in February challenged Barnett's work schedule, and Barnett explained that he joins her night shift and weekend shifts on a regular basis and also makes himself available to Lacy Lakeview residents during the week, Barnett said. Barnett said he can't effectively run the police department from behind a desk during business hours.

Barnett said that when he was hired as police chief in February 2022, more than 10 officers were considering leaving the department because of low morale and low pay. He presented the municipal manager with a strategic plan to improve the department. In the 26 months he was there, he got a $5,000 raise for officers, improved morale, revamped investigations and got some new equipment and vehicles.

Prior to becoming a Texas licensed peace officer, Barnett served in the US Army on active duty and in the US Navy Reserve. He has been certified as a Master Peace Officer by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement since 2007.

Former Lacy Lakeview Fire Chief Cody Newman said Thursday that Hodde also fired him before the end of his six-month probation last August without any performance documentation or written counseling. Newman holds advanced firefighter and fire investigator ratings from the Texas Fire Protection Commission. He is also a licensed EMT and EMT instructor.

WATCH NOW: Lacy Lakeview City Manager Calvin Hodde discusses infrastructure needs in the city and the possibility of a bond.


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