The small Burnet County town of Bertram has been without a full-time police chief since October 25. That’s when Chief JJ Wilson was placed on unpaid administrative leave.
Tuesday night members of the city council made his suspension permanent. City attorney Michael Guevara told FOX 7 the decision to fire Chief Wilson was clear, but also difficult.
“You build relationships in small towns, and he has done a lot for the Department, moved it up to a level that it hasn’t been, since Ive been involved with the city, about 8 years. But it was time,” said Guevara.
Wilson came from Houston and was with the department for a little more than three years. His troubles went public in early October. A Burnet County Grand Jury indicted Wilson after he was accused of official misconduct. The case, in part, involved a dispute over hay bales.
Then on October 24th Wilson wrecked his patrol cruiser near Marble Falls. The damaged SUV was impounded and Investigators said alcohol may have been involved the crash.
People who spoke to FOX 7 on Wednesday had this to say about the decision to let Wilson go. “When you are in that position you’re held to a higher standard than everybody else,” said Chris Hyden.
Jessica Bell said she understands why the wreck was the final straw for the City Council. “At first I didn’t have anything against him, he seemed nice and everything, and then all this happened, and it was kind of like, why are y’all keeping him on if he is doing things that are not supposed to be done, and everything its kind of crazy."
Wilson is the second Bertram Police Chief in ten years to defined them self on the wrong side of the law. For small towns, finding and retaining officers is difficult because pay is typically low.
With the help wanted sign back out, city officials hope things will be different this time.
“I will say that the city is in a different position than it was 4 years ago when we were looking, as for as there has been new growth, new subdivisions in there, so obviously with that there is a little more income available to hire the chief of police so I think we will hopefully bring in a different crop of applicants and we will have the opportunity to hire a more qualified individual to be a Chief in Bertram for the long term,” said Guevara.
One of the early candidates is Sergeant Lynn Booth who was made Interim Police Chief.
He told FOX 7 he plans to apply for the job.