Members of the Port Arthur Police Association cast votes to determine if the Police Union will give the city’s police chief a vote of no confidence. When the voting closed Monday morning, 85% of voters had indicated that lacked confidence in the chief.
From the Port Arthur Police Association
The Port Arthur Police Association conducted a vote of its membership regarding the leadership of the Port Arthur Police Department. The vote started at 8:00 am October 27, 2017. Voting by the Membership ended at 8:00 am November 6, 2017. The membership was asked to respond to the following question:
As a Port Arthur Police Officer, do you have confidence in the Police Chief, and the Administration he has put in place, to effectively and efficiently manage the Department in a manner that promotes a good working environment among officers, provides leadership to officers, and provides the citizens of Port Arthur the services and protection they deserve?
Members of the Association were asked to answer "YES" or "NO" to the above question. The vote was anonymous and conducted online via a secure web site. Based on the vote of the Association's membership, 85% of the voting membership responded "NO", indicating the overwhelming majority of the voting membership lack confidence in Police Chief Patrick Melvin and the administration he has put in place.
The Association agrees that changes within the department were necessary and recognizes that a new chief will make personnel and policy decisions based on their management style and philosophy. Patrick Melvin was hired as Police Chief for Port Arthur on or about September 29, 2016. Chief Melvin's leadership and management style has resulted in approximately 25 members of the department leaving since he was hired. Many of the officers that elected not to stay under Chief Melvin's leadership were long time officers and supervisors at the department that had countless years of experience to offer to the department and City.
A significant void in leadership occurred as a direct result of Chief Melvin's leadership style and philosophy. That void in management was filled with persons that lacked leadership experience. The result has been a further decline in the number of officers and deterioration of morale among the officers that remain.
Th lack of experience and leadership within the department was obvious during the tragic event of Hurricane Harvey making landfall in Southeast Texas. In addition, under Chief Melvin's leadership. the city has experienced more litigation against the city by officers than at any other time in the history of the department, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees being incurred by the city.
The executive board of the Association welcomes the opportunity to discuss the direction of the department and these serious issues in detail with City Council and/or City Management to create a positive working environment that will benefit the city and the citizens of Port Arthur.
Chief Patrick Melvin sent us the following response:
Professionalism and Accountability has been at the forefront of all the decisions and managerial direction since becoming the police chief of the Port Arthur Police Department. We are here to serve the citizens of our community. The safety and concern of our community members is my number one goal.
I am a change agent police chief and I was hired to bring about positive, productive accountability and professional change to the Port Arthur police department. I realize change can be uncomfortable and there has been progressive change for the good of the community and for the good of the department since being appointed to lead the PAPD in September of 2016.
I will cite some of the many positive, productive and progressive changes in the near future that have addressed needed accountability and policy improvements. I am confident, and I would argue I have some of the best officers on my department in SE Texas. This was evident during the recent catastrophe of Hurricane Harvey as our City experienced no looting, major thefts or major crimes.
As I deputized over 100 officers and deputies from the state of Louisiana combined with assistance from the Texas Rangers and Department of Public Safety that worked hand in hand with the fine men and women of the Port Arthur Police department to make it safe and secure in our community. It is my goal and is my management style to challenge my officers to become ambassadors and community conscious officer’s sensitive to the needs and desires of our citizens.
I have been charged with mentoring my senior command staff within my department to be ambassadors of my “community first” philosophy. I even solicited members from the community to assist as promotional board panel members to assist in the selection of my command staff. I went with their recommendations of who they wanted as leaders in their community. I understand this was a paradigm shift to include the community in this important selection process. I support my command staff as we move forward with the new direction and positive change of the Port Arthur Police department.
We are in the National Accreditation Process with CALEA, The Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies. This process has already improved our department as we have almost completed and revamped our entire police directives and policies, some of which have not been updated in over 20 years. We are also in the State Accreditation Acknowledgement program with the Texas Police Chiefs association which also encourages “best practices” for a professional police agency.
The safety and security of the members in my community is my #1 goal and I acknowledge that I need the assistance of my department to make that goal a reality. Although it will take time, I am confident this goal can be realized. We are here to protect the citizens of Port Arthur and as the Police Chief, all of my activities, actions and energy will be expended to make that happen.
I look forward to addressing the concerns of the PAPA now that I know what their concerns are.
Chief Patrick R. Melvin, Chief of Police
Port Arthur Police Chief Patrick Melvin, 51, was appointed by city council to the top police position last September.
Since that time some officers resigned, some were terminated and some top officers chose retirement amid an investigation into the internal happenings of the department.
While some council members have expressed concern over “unrest’ in the department, the specific reasons for the no confidence vote have not been announced by the union.
Sources within the department have told 12News that Melvin has requested some indication from the union as to what their issues with him are, but no response has yet been received.
The no-confidence vote is against the upper administration according to Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT) field representative Tom Barbee.
The Port Arthur Police Association doesn't have confidence in the ability of the administration to adequately provide a proper level of support and do what is necessary for the citizens of Port Arthur with its available resources Barbee told 12News.
After the results of the vote are tallied the police association hopes to meet with both the city manager and city council to lay out their issues Barbee said.
The association is not looking to have anyone fired but just wants to draw attention to what they feel are some immediate problems according to Barbee
Chief Melvin met with the police association president and requested to meet with the association's board but the board was busy and could not meet with him according to Barbee.
The Port Arthur Police Department currently has 30 unfilled police officer positions according to Mayor Derrick Freeman.
Port Arthur City Manager Brian McDougal is the one who ultimately has the power to hire and fire the police chief.
Chief Melvin responded to the no-confidence vote in a statement released to 12News...
"I highly respect the men and women of the Port Arthur Police Department. I am now and have always been committed to doing what is best for the community and the Port Arthur Police Department.
Having been a Chief of Police for over 11 years, I understand that being Chief can come with scrutiny from those who may disagree with decisions being made or fully understand all aspects of the position.
PAPD is a great police department, but we must always find ways to be better as an agency. I along with my staff, look forward to hearing from the Police Association and their issues so that we can work together to address and resolve them.
During my time in Port Arthur, we have proactively and professionally focused on improving our policies and culture, and these changes have been met with resistance by some.
However, it is my responsibility to make the right, and sometimes controversial, decisions for the betterment of our department and city.
I am steadfast in my beliefs of service before self and will continue to do what is best for the residents of Port Arthur."
According to The Port Arthur Police Association’s Facebook page, members began casting their votes at 8 a.m. Friday and voting will go through 8 a.m. Nov. 6.
“Once the vote is held, the Port Arthur Police Association will be releasing a statement regarding the results of the vote of no confidence and more details will be released in the future," says a statement from the association.
Chief Melvin, originally from Houston, was police chief in Salt River, Arizona before taking the position in Port Arthur.
Shortly after taking the oath of office he told 12News his first priority was to establish relationships with the public.