FANNIN COUNTY, TX - Of the 10 cities in Fannin County, only 3 have police departments with a chief, while 2 cities have suspended their police departments since April. In a special report, News 12's Daniella Rivera takes a closer look at law enforcement in Fannin County communities.
Police chief Robert Robinson comes to work, he patrols the City of Trenton, waiving to residents, and even stops to visit with them, "We assist the County, every chance we get," he said.
Trenton joins Savoy and Bonham as the only three cities in Fannin County with a police department, and a police chief.
"I think every town should have a police department. I think it's very, very important," said Fannin County resident Frances Grammer.
In April, we reported the Ector City Council voted to suspend their police department, just days after firing their police chief due to "lack of confidence."
"Oh that'll be easy..to do any kind of crime..easy easy," said Anthony Shivers.
In the meeting, the Ector Council reviewed the department's activity since January of this year. It included 41 offenses, ranging from DWI's, aggravated sexual assault, and even a terroristic threat.
The City tells News 12 they're actively trying to hire a new chief.
The city of Ladonia has been without a police force since their chief resigned on June 13th. Mayor Christopher Burch tells us as of right now, they are not advertising to hire for that position, "I'm hoping that the council will go ahead and allow us to start taking applications in, so that by the time we get through our budget process we will be able to start weeding through and find a person to start interviewing."
When these cities are without police, their 911 calls go to the Fannin County Sheriff's Office, which is also currently hiring.
"They just cannot cover this entire county. It's too big," said Chief Robinson.
We're told sheriff's deputies answer calls in Ladonia a couple times a day, and 911 call records show they've answered more than 90 in Ector in just the last 2 months. Combined, Ector and Ladonia also filed 42 cases with the Fannin County District Attorney's Office in 2013.
"When criminals find out that you don't have a police department or they have to travel 30 miles to come over, your crime rate is higher. You have a lot more thieven," said Grammer.
Honey Grove and Leonard have police departments with acting, or interim, chiefs.
Leonard city administrator Butch Henderson says they've been trying to hire a permanent chief for 6 months, and now their former chief is coming out of retirement to lead the search for his replacement.
We asked him why it's so hard to find and keep police chiefs, "We're limited on what we can pay," he said.
He tells News 12 a lot of the time, the difficulty is that by the time you find a qualified candidate, they're wanting more money than the city can afford.
Henderson also says sometimes small cities can only afford to hire one person, so the police chief does the work of an entire department.