Pick the right day and time of night, and you can shoot a man in Reno, take all the time you want to watch him die, and it’s likely you will never end up with the Folsom Prison Blues.
This particular Reno, population 2,500, 35 miles northwest of Fort Worth, has a law enforcement problem or, more precisely, a city government problem, the Fort Worth Star Telegram tells us.
Reno Mayor Lynda Stokes has asked Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler to provide protection for Reno during those times when the city’s tiny police department is shuttered.
While this arrangement is rare in Texas, according to Steve Westbrook, executive director of the Texas Sheriff's Association, Stokes insists that a police force, even one that doesn’t go out at night, is integral to Reno’s identity.
In the minds of Parker County officials, this identity has been forged by Carol Houlihan, the Reno council member who constantly called for increased county services at the same time picketing outside a county office to protest county spending.
Houlihan was charged in May with forgery for falsifying animal certificates, the story says.
Or the time two years ago when the Reno volunteer fire department had to be shut down when the fire chief was arrested.
“Since I've been mayor, we've done nothing but try to mend fences,” Stokes says. “Whatever happened in the past, we'll apologize for, but I'm telling you, we're different. It's not the same."
Try telling that to Fowler, who insists his dispatchers will send a squad into Reno for an emergency.
"The citizens of Reno can rest assured, if an assault is taking place or a crime is in progress of a dangerous nature, if Reno is not there, we will be there," Fowler says. "We always have and we always will. But if it's a property-line dispute or an alarm on a septic system like we once had, we're not going to come."
Or when there is a 911 call from a woman, like Sue Ferrell, who was sure her house was being broken into. The dispatcher said it was Ferrell’s misfortune that there were no Reno officers on duty at the time, and no one would be coming.
Fowler defended the dispatcher’s decision. He has made it clear Reno either needs to build its police force or contract with Parker County for all of its law enforcement.
As of July 9, the Reno website is carrying an advertisement for a certified police officer.
In the meantime, Ferrell and the rest of Reno’s taxpaying citizens can hang their heads and cry.
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or email@example.com or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.
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Photo of Keystone Cops, used via a Creative Commons license.