City Manager Eddie Brown has chosen Sweetwater’s new police chief. Chosen from the top five applicants was Brian Frieda, who is currently the police chief at Muleshoe Police Department in Muleshoe, TX.
The Sweetwater City Commission will meet at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, in the City Commission Room at City Hall to confirm Brown’s appointment of Frieda as police chief effective May 1, 2012.
“He will be wrapping up some things in Muleshoe, so he will probably actually start at the Sweetwater Police Department on Wednesday, May 3,” said Brown.
During the search for the new police chief, current members of the Sweetwater Police Patrol Association stood against how the search was handled. The City Manager was the lone decision maker.
On Friday, March 30, 2012, the Sweetwater Police Patrol Association called on the Sweetwater City Council to take a stronger role in the search for a replacement of longtime Police Chief Jim Kelley.
“This city is about to choose the first new police chief in 28 years,” said Charley Wilkison, Director of Public Affairs at the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, or CLEAT. “It’s a big step and the local association has asked to be a part of the selection process but have been told ‘no’ by the City Manager.”
“There’s a large sense of being disregarded in some areas from city hall. And why that is, we have no idea,” said Sweetwater Police Det. Lance Richburg, who is currently the Vice President of the Sweetwater Police Patrol Association. “We want what’s best for the citizens of Sweetwater. We know this department needs to improve in areas, it needs to grow in areas and evolve. And that alone, we feel, is a reason for us to be involved in this process,” Richburg said.
“What our message was during this process was that communication needs to be more open and the city needs to ask more questions,” said SPPA President Sam Cunningham in an off-duty interview. “There’s a communication problem between the City and police department and it’s not just with the chief issue. No elected officials have contacted SPPA. We just want to do business out in the open,” he stated.
“We also want to state that we are not against Mr. Frieda at all. We are looking forward to meeting him and hope his being here will benefit the citizens of Sweetwater. That being said, the process was wrong in our opinion and honestly a symptom of a larger disease which cannot be overlooked by this city. It is still a matter of concern we will continue to address along with other issues. Again, we will welcome Mr. Frieda and wish him the very best here.”
Brown insists the process was done in a legal manner, the way it’s supposed to be done.