CLEAT: Denison Police Chief misused taxpayer dollars

By: Maddie Garrett Email
By: Maddie Garrett Email

DENISON, TX - The Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas, or CLEAT, has released its findings from an independent investigation into the Denison Police Department at City Hall Thursday morning, and it deals directly with Denison Police Chief Jim Lovell's use of confiscated vehicles.

Dwight Tiller, Director of Field Services for CLEAT, says they believe Denison Police Chief Jim Lovell is misusing confiscated vehicles for personal use.

"Once he drove to work he would drive it home for lunch, officers have told us they've seen it when he was getting a hair cut during the day time, even that about 2 years ago he used that vehicle when he went to purchase his own personal motorcycle," said Tiller.

One of the cars in question is a 1996 Chevy Impala, which was seized in a drug raid in July 2006 and listed as "use by department" on Police documents. According to State statutes, "law enforcement can use seized property solely for law enforcement purposes," such as undercover narcotics investigations. But CLEAT investigators don't believe that is the case with the impala.

"I deal with a lot of law enforcement agencies and I've never heard of a unique, collectible car being used for narcotic investigation purposes because they stand out. And from our information we've heard that that's why these vehicles were retained was for narcotics investigation purposes," said Tiller.

According to the Department's budget and CLEAT's findings, Lovell receives a $350 vehicle allowance every month to pay for gas and upkeep of his personal vehicle while doing city business. But instead, Tiller says it appears Lovell drives the department owned Impala.

"We just don't think it's in the taxpayer's best interest, you have a city official receiving a car allowance and then using a city vehicle that is in addition to that car allowance, and using city gas and city mechanics to keep it up mechanically," he said.

Another vehicle in question is a rare 1972 Plymouth Barracuda. It was also seized in a drug raid and forfeited to the City in July 2008. According to Denison Police Department documents, this car is also listed as "use by department" but has remained in storage since the seizure.

For the past several years, dozens of seized vehicles have been auctioned and that money goes back into tax-payer funds. Tiller said the they estimate the Impala could be sold for approximately $16,000 and the Barracuda for even more, from $20,000 - $25,000.

"Local Council Members should be held accountable under the law for continuing to all the abuse and misappropriation for personal use," said Tiller.

Now CLEAT says the investigation is in the hands of leaders at City Hall. CLEAT has given the City about two weeks to take action. And if they don't, CLEAT will hand over its findings to another law enforcement agency, such as the Texas Rangers.

City Attorney Tom Akins did release a statement that says the City Manager found no policy the chief has violated and the City does not plan to conduct an investigation.

The Denison Police Department declined comment, saying all information must come from the City Attorney. The city attorney would not comment on camera, but did release this statement:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

RESPONSE OF THE CITY OF DENISON

IN LATE SEPTEMBER THE NEWS MEDIA WAS INFORMED BY AN ANONYMOUS CALLER THAT THE CHIEF OF POLICE WAS BEING INVESTIGATED FOR MISAPPROPRIATION. THAT WAS BAD INFORMATION AND SIMPLY NOT TRUE. THE ANONYMOUS ANNOUNCEMENT COINCIDED TO THE DAY WITH THE CITY OF DENISON RECEIVING AN OPEN RECORD REQUESTS FROM THE COMBINED LAW ENFORCEMENT ASSOCIATIONS OF TEXAS (C.L.E.A.T.).

THE CITY PROMPTLY DELIVERED TO C.L.E.A.T., AND TO SOME OF YOU, THE NEWS MEDIA, OVER 1100 PAGES OF DOCUMENTS THAT WERE RESPONSIVE TO THE REQUEST. FOLLOWING ITS REVIEW OF THOSE DOCUMENTS, C.L.E.A.T. CONVEYED TO THE CITY THAT ITS SOLE CONCERN WAS THE POLICE CHIEF’S USE, FROM TIME TO TIME, OF A VEHICLE THAT HAD BEEN FORFEITED TO THE CITY. C.L.E.A.T. EXPRESSED ITS POSITION THAT THE USE WAS INAPPROPRIATE AND THAT THERE SHOULD BE A “CONSEQUENCE” FOR THE CHIEF HAVING USED THE VEHICLE.

IN CONSIDERING C.L.E.A.T.’S CONCERN, THE CITY MANAGER FOUND THAT NO POLICY OF THE CITY HAD BEEN VIOLATED AND KNEW OF NO STATUTE THAT PROHIBITED THE CHIEF’S USE DURING HIS BUSINESS DAY. NO USE OF THE VEHICLE FOR PERSONAL REASONS HAS BEEN CITED.

THE CITY MANAGER DECLINED TO PROVIDE TO C.L.E.A.T. THE “CONSEQUENCE” THAT IT WAS SEEKING. LIKEWISE, THE CITY HAS DECLINED TO LAUNCH AN INVESTIGATION AT C.LE.A.T.’S REQUEST INTO THE CHIEF’S CONDUCT WHEN IT SEES NO POLICY OR STATUTE CONTRARY TO THE CHIEF’S AUTHORIZED USE OF THE VEHICLE.

SHOULD A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY UNDERTAKE AN INVESTIGATION OF THE CHIEF’S USE OF A FORFEITED VEHICLE, THE CITY OF DENISON WILL COOPERATE FULLY WITH THAT AGENCY AND ITS OFFICERS.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by james goforth Location: Denison on Jul 24, 2011 at 03:25 PM
    The police in Denison also do not provide law enforcement for low income residents after being attacked by a man with a beer bottle a local man was refused law enforcement on june 1 this year also in april and may 2 other individuals were attacked and police response was not to do anything and we wonder why denison has 10X the crime rates of other similarly sized towns the texas attorney general reported at least 30 reports of police corruption involving violence are we republicans or liberals even in the most liberal cities people are not allowed to commit this types of crimes without punishment texas is going soft very soft
  • by To: KXII on Dec 18, 2010 at 02:25 PM
    It's been one month, any updates?
  • by wonfoot johnson on Dec 14, 2010 at 10:24 AM
    Make him repay all of the monthly auto allowances back to the first ride he took in the crack-mobile. If he cannot then deduct it from his paycheck.
  • by Texana Location: Grayson County on Dec 13, 2010 at 07:57 PM
    Student, who do you think you're going to call if you're being beaten, robbed, raped, or violated in one form or another? You're going to call the police, the very ones you sit here and belittle. They will come to your rescue just like they would if you were a decent person that appreciated the job they do to protect you and yours. So call them whatever names you want, belittle them if it makes you feel like a 'big' man, and know that they'll still be there for you when you need them. That's who they are.
  • by me Location: here on Dec 13, 2010 at 11:59 AM
    hey student, why would you lump all officers together.....each person is different, and should be judged accordingly.the average police officer does his job and goes home, and i think it is highly delusional and paranoid to think the police are busy trying to find out who left which comment. i also think it is very rude and disrespectful for you to use the term you used. they are doing a job, and i for one am thankful to have them there.
  • by Student Location: Grayson COunty on Dec 10, 2010 at 09:06 PM
    yet...I, as a citizen, fear reporting them for their criminal behavior because they might retaliate. They will know who I am, have buddies in the system who will find out for them, or possibly do their bidding for them. Sometimes, they have questionable items in their homes that the average citizen would be held accountable if found out. When they swear to uphold the laws, they mean to hold citzens to them, but personally feel they are above the law. I have lost all respect for the p i g s. They are criminals who learned how to get away with their crimes, the others are the ones who failed and landed in jail.
  • by Just Thinking of the Future Location: Texoma on Dec 8, 2010 at 09:34 PM
    Shawn, agree with you 100%. I am happy to see officers at the games and some of their functions, shows family values and caring for the youth. If there are major problems, they need to be addressed by the appropriate agency. I am still a big supporter of those who protect and serve, but am also a realist. Hope everything turns out alright for Denison.
  • by Shawn Location: Denison on Dec 6, 2010 at 11:42 AM
    I'm very concerned with the direction of our city. Just because you are allowed to do something, does not make it ethical. It amazes me that our public officials allow Denison to have this type of reputation and refuse to address it. The PD must understand that they are leaders in the community and they must use good sense and not create an unethical perception from the community. What the chief is doing is wrong, and everybody knows it. As a leader, he should have already stopped this himself. Also, an on-duty officer should be able to occasionally attend their childs game, but to be able to show up to every community event creates a negative perception. (I know some that do this) I will always support the PD, but we have some problems that need to be addressed. Lets not be scared of finding out the truth to some of these problems.
  • by Just saying Location: Denison on Dec 5, 2010 at 11:08 PM
    There are too many crooked cops that I have encountered and some have been from Denison and Sherman. In 2001 a cop was fired from DPD for taking evidence and a couple of months before that he had got me for marijuana but that evidence never showed up in court. And when is it ok for a cop to run over and kill someone and still have his job? He doesnt anymore cause I heard he was going through corrupt from DPD too and he worked there. You cant trust anyone these days. Not even the ones who are suppose to serve and protect. I'll protect myself before I will ever put my life in a Denison or Sherman cops hands.
  • by granny 70 Location: grayson, county on Dec 5, 2010 at 06:41 PM
    I have no respect after reading all comments. why cant the city see. they need respect for all enforcement officials.
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