The Blue Mound police chief, Barry Hinkle, has been fired for “lack of confidence” among city officials, the mayor confirmed Wednesday.
The City Council, on a 5-0 vote, fired Hinkle last week during a regular council meeting.
The “lack of confidence” was not from officers in the department, but from city officials who said that among other things the police chief was unprofessional to the city secretary and interfered with the public works department, Mayor Alan Hooks said Wednesday.
“He was under contract and the city decided to go a different direction,” Hooks said.
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Hinkle, 53, denied the allegations.
“I worked at the highest level of professionalism in that department,” he said. “We made changes that improved the department.”
Hinkle said that since he has been police chief the department has upgraded body cameras, police car dashcameras and a radio system. He also was instrumental in getting night vision lights for patrol cars and updating a fingerprint system with state agencies.
Fire Chief Shawn Fannan was named interim police chief of the six-member department in the community of more than 2,600 residents just north of Fort Worth. The department has four dispatchers and 10 reserves.
Hinkle’s last day was Nov. 21 in the $72,000 a year job he has held since June 2014. He was hired part-time as deputy police chief in 2010.
Details were not available regarding the alleged unprofessional behavior toward the city secretary.
But Hinkle and Hooks confirmed that the alleged interference with the public works department stemmed from a complaint Hinkle filed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which monitors the air, water and waste in the state.
In September, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality received two complaints, one from Hinkle, alleging that the Blue Mound water system was not properly maintaining the ground storage tank, and that contamination and dead animals were found in the tank.
A TCEQ official conducted an unannounced investigation on Sep. 28, but she did not find any dead animals in the ground storage tank, according to a state agency report. Ex-public works department employee Charles Stoker said Wednesday that he saw dead birds in the ground storage tank in July.
The TCEQ did determine that there were maintenance issues with the ground storage tank, and a notice of the violation was mailed Nov. 4 to the city of Blue Mound.
Hooks declined to comment in detail on the TCEQ violation.
But the mayor said problems with Hinkle had been going on for at least a year.
“I’ve got nothing to hide,” Hooks said, noting the firing was done during an open city council meeting. “I’m just trying to run this city.”