in Houston, Texas
Reno, Parker County can’t agree on police protection for city residents
Friday, Jul 13, 2012, 12:01PM CST
By Mark Lisheron

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 or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of Keystone Cops, used via a Creative Commons license.

D Abbott
Friday, 07/13/2012 - 04:47PM

Don't feel bad for the city of Reno. The mayor, the city council have and the residents have done this to themselves.

Monday, 08/20/2012 - 02:07AM

@ D Abbott

Are you serious? We still pay our taxes in Reno. Parker County is trying to bully Reno just like they do with every other city/town in this county. I don't agree that Reno should have a pd but I didn't get a vote or say in the situation. And if that coward Fowler isn't going to dispatch to our town he should refund our tax dollars so our city can afford to hire night time police officers.

Tuesday, 08/21/2012 - 12:56AM

It is shameful what is happening in Reno. It is a FACT that dispatches are not going through for things much worse than property line disputes. It is a big mistake in my opinion that hardball Hatfield and McCoy tactics are being used by this Sheriff due to what may have been valid personality conflicts from days in the past. The safety of all the citizens of Reno young and old are part of a political game that will only produce losing results. I do not understand how anyone who has put years into their field of public safety would ever risk tarnishing a career over any serious incident that I pray will never happen to anyone in the town.

Sunday, 12/16/2012 - 06:59AM

Reno police department s the worst thing in reno. They are never on duty after 5 and never start before 9 so i do agree we need to get rid of them any time i have ever need them i always get the parker county shierf dispatched out. So why pay such high taxes for a worthless police department. The whole city should come togeather to deal with this problem .

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