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  • (UPDATE) Polk County Jailer reportedly terminated

    logoDPS LOGO

    From Staff Reports

    A Polk County jailer who was put on leave two weeks ago after a complaint of excessive use of force was filed has been terminated, per sources.

    On Feb. 22, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint of a Lieutenant at the Polk County Jail allegedly using excessive force on an inmate in the jail. PCSO administration notified the Texas Rangers and requested the Rangers’ assistance in conducting the investigation.

    The jailer was placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. Between the PCSO and Polk County Jail, there are currently 14 job openings listed on the Polk County Texas website.

  • Board discusses PD’s outreach efforts

    040121 COCISD PDCOURTESY PHOTO BY CASSIE GREGORY COCISD Police Chief Roosevelt Joseph and his team gave a year-in-review presentation at the COCISD school board meeting on Monday, March 22.

    By Cassie Gregory
    Special to the News-Times

    COLDSPRING — The highlight of the March 22 COCISD Board of Trustees meeting was the yearly report given by COCISD Police Chief Roosevelt Joseph and his team of officers.

    They reported on the year's events and outreach programs that have been implemented to build relationships with students, families and the community.

    "A lot of what we've been doing is to foster the relationship between the public and police officers," Joseph said. "This has been a tough year with all of the things going on around the country. We are community based — that's what we are all about."

    Some of the programs include Cops Who Care at the beginning of the school year, where officers give away free backpacks filled with school supplies, and Shop with a Cop at Christmas, which helps to provide gifts for students in need at Christmas.

    "We don't want any child to wake up on Christmas morning without a gift under the tree," Joseph said.

    The department also works with organizations and other police departments to acquire equipment, technology and software at no cost to the district. Recently, hey were awarded a grant for a sophisticated report-writing system that has cut down on the time it takes to record reports and has greatly increased the security of confidential information. Another grant provided equipment designed to teach students about the danger of vaping, and they also received new radios as a donation, saving the district $12,000.

    "We work very hard every day to make this a safe environment, and we are going to continue," Joseph said.

    Also at the meeting, Coldspring-Oakhurst High School advanced culinary arts students served a delicious meal to board members and staff under the direction of Chef Joel Casiday. The selection included chicken and dumplings, mixed greens salad and a fresh, multi-berry crisp topped with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream.

    The meeting began with the pledges of allegiance led by Coldspring Intermediate students.

    Interim Superintendent Walter Key introduced and thanked the culinary arts students, followed by a presentation given by Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction Vikki Curry and campus principals on benchmark scores.

    In other business, trustees approved:

    • •The adoption of pre-kindergarten instructional materials to be implemented in the 2021-22 school year.
    • •The TASB Localized Policy Manual Update 116.
    • •Recommended revisions to board policies.
    • •A digital learning agreement with Apex Learning.
    • •The purchase and installation of a paint booth for Coldspring-Oakhurst High School.
    • •The purchase of interactive televisions.
    • •Participation in the Region 7 purchasing cooperative.
    • •Construction of a tennis court.
    • •Proposals for facility projects.
    • •To temporarily delegate hiring authority for contract personnel to the superintendent.

    The next regular meeting of the COCISD Board of Trustees is set for 6:30 p.m. April 26 at the Jones Educational Complex Auditorium.

  • Corrigan officer back at work after stabbing

    CnYMCoIJMUGSHOT Judy Gail Moreira

    By Jason Chlapek

    CORRIGAN – A K9 Unit officer with the Corrigan Police Department is back on duty after he was stabbed in the line of duty last month.

    Albert Richard was one of the CPD officers on duty on Feb. 20, who was dispatched for backup by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to assist in a disturbance call just outside of Corrigan. When Richard arrived at the residence, he went inside and attempted to detain the subject.

    As Richard grabbed the suspect, 28-year-old Judy Gail Moreira, he was stabbed in the upper area of his right arm. However, Richard continued with business as usual and didn’t realize he had been stabbed until he and his partner put Moreira in handcuffs.

    It was at that point that Richard saw blood dripping from the right side of his body and a steak knife fell to the ground during the process. Moreira was taken to the Polk County Jail where she remains in custody on charges of aggravated assault of a uniformed public servant and terroristic threat.

    Richard was taken to CHI-Livingston Hospital where he received treatment and was released. He was cleared to return to duty earlier this week.

  • Livingston Police finds body in creek

                                   JASON CHLPEK I PCE Livingston Police officers found the body of David Alexander Canon, 38, Thursday morning in Long King Creek.

    From the Livingston Police Department

    The body of a Livingston man was found in Long King Creek on the west side of Livingston Thursday morning January 21, 2021.

    David Alexander Canon, 38, was found dead after Livingston Police Department officers were dispatched to Long King Creek near the 1800 block of US Highway 190 West. Officers were dispatched in reference to the body of a white male that had been found in the creek.

    Once officers arrived at the creek, they discovered that the male was deceased. Once the subject was identified as Canon, the body was released to Cochran Funeral Home and sent to the Forensic Medical Management Services of Texas in Jefferson County for an autopsy.

    At this time, the cause of Canon's death remains under investigation. If anyone has any information regarding the death of Canon please contact the Livingston Police Department at (936) 327-3117.

  • Livingston Police seeks sexual assault suspects

    Wesley HarrellMUGSHOT Wesley Harrell

    From the Livingston Police Department

    The Livingston Police Department is currently seeking the whereabouts and apprehension of Jacolby Bernard Reece and Wesley Frank Harrell.

    Reece and Harrell are wanted for the felony offense of sexual assault. The two suspects currently have active felony warrants for their arrest and anyone caught aiding or harboring these two suspects will be arrested and charged with the felony offense of hindering apprehension of known felon.

    Jacolby ReeceMUG SHOT Jacolby Reece

    If you have any information on the location of these individuals, you are asked to contact the Livingston Police Department (936) 327-3117, Polk County Sheriff’s Office (936) 327-6810 or Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP (7867). Callers will remain anonymous and may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $1,000 if the information provided leads to an arrest or grand jury indictment of a felony offender.

  • Livingston recognizes promoted officers and approves holiday schedule

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Livingston Police officers Marty Drake (left) and Kaleb Barker were recently promoted to new positions within the department. Drake was promoted from detective to lieutenant, and Barker was promoted from patrol to detective.

    By Jason Chlapek

    LIVINGSTON — Livingston Police Chief Matt Parrish recognized a pair of longtime officers in his department Tuesday evening at the City of Livingston’s monthly council meeting at Livingston City Hall.

    Marty Drake was recently promoted from detective to lieutenant, and Kaleb Barker was promoted from patrol to detective. Drake has been with the LPD for 20 years, while Barker has been with the department for 16.

    “We’re fortunate enough to have most of our department with master peace officers,” Drake said. “We make sure the cases are followed up in a timely manner. The detectives do a great job and it makes my job a lot easier. We have sergeants and patrol officers who are fair and make good decisions.”

    Drake joined LPD in August 2001. He started out as a reserve deputy with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in 1996 before joining the Onalaska Police Department as a patrol officer and school officer, then moved on to Livingston.

    “Livingston earned a Cops in Schools grant in 2001 and that’s when I went to Livingston,” Drake said.

    Drake spent the first 12 years with the LPD as an officer at Livingston Junior High. In 2013, he became a detective before earning his promotion to lieutenant three weeks ago.

    “It’s different policing in school and policing on the street,” Drake said. “The detective is on the investigative side of things where a patrol officer on the street works the case as far up as it will go. They go case after case after case. The detective does follow-up interviews and picks up evidence. The detectives file complaints, deal with the DA’s office, go to the judges to get the warrants and continue the investigation all the way through. As a lieutenant, we oversee patrol and detectives.”

    Barker joined the LPD in September 2005. He spent the first six years in dispatch before becoming a patrol officer in 2011, where he served until earning his promotion to detective two weeks ago.

    “It’s a totally different world (detective and patrol),” Barker said. “I’m going to miss the camaraderie with the patrol guys. When you’re a detective, you typically go by yourself. You don’t have a partner coming with you, but you’re not in too many dangerous situations. A lot of times, it’s me going to a business to look at the camera system and request copies of a surveillance video. I’ll be doing more investigation.”

    In other items of business, the city approved the holiday compensation for employees and council aldermen, the holiday observances for 2021, and a resolution for a public hearing at the Dec. 8 meeting and dues for Brazos Transit. Also approved was a payment of $56,430 to Maguire Iron for the elevated water tanks project.

    “The employees get turkeys or hams for Thanksgiving, employees who has been with the city at least a year gets a week’s salary, employees who have been with us less than a year get $50, and the council members get turkey and ham for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” City Manager Bill Wiggins said. “The holidays are going to be New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr., two days for Thanksgiving, two days for Christmas, Veterans Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Good Friday and Labor Day. The Bauers have the tract of land just east of Peters Tractor & Equipment. We’ll have the hearing on annexing that tract on Dec. 8. Aideney Reeves will be the Lower Trinity Groundwater Conservation District board member. The city’s portion is $4,200 and it’s an annual contribution. We help the county with their portion.”

    Livingston city council will meet again at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8.

  • Parents allege child abuse, seek answers

    IMG 7787ALTON PORTER | HCC Exterior of the Treehouse Academy, a daycare in Crockett, Texas.

    By Alton Porter

    A group of parents who had children at a Crockett day care are still searching for answers after a grand jury voted to no-bill a case in December.

    Criminal charges will not move forward against past employees — Shaquill Johnson, Sekelthia Nicole Jackson and Sabrina Griffin — of Treehouse Academy at 301 Renaissance Way for alleged child abuse. They were charged in April and May 2020 with abandoning or endangering children at the day care.

    All cases were closed after a Dec. 2, 2020 Houston County grand jury hearing returned a no-bill. That decision means the jury did not feel there was enough probable cause for arrests or charges to move forward, Houston County District Attorney Donna Kaspar said in an interview with Polk County Publishing Company.

    Therefore, the case will not proceed to trial unless another grand jury finds probable cause with additional evidence.

    As prosecutors are not present in the jury room during a vote, no explanation was given as to the grand jury’s decision, Kaspar said, adding she was unaware of any further investigation into the alleged incidents.

    The investigation began after Treehouse Academy teacher Paola Mendez, whose two-year-old son attended the day care at the time, came forward with video evidence that her child had been mistreated or abused by some of the staff. Mendez said her son got to the point where “everyday he was crying all day” at school and at home in the middle of the night, behaving strangely at home and mimicking what he experienced at the day care.

    In an interview with Polk County Publishing Company, Mendez said her son was “scared of Shaquill (Johnson) and (Sheklethia Nicole Jackson) due to alleged mistreatment,” adding, when she arrived at work each morning, “once he would see them, he would start screaming and crying, and he would continue to hide.”

    Mendez said this was very confusing and concerning and wanted to know what was going on, so she obtained access to videos taken by surveillance cameras at the facility. In viewing the videos, she saw employees spanking and hitting her son and other children; dragging children by their arms, legs and ears; grabbing them by their hair; slapping one in the mouth; cursing to some of them; and other unacceptable things.

    Mendez said she was later fired by Treehouse Academy owner Lyndsey Rice. She obtained copies of videos showing children at the day care allegedly being abused from her attorney. She said many of the videos were not included in the montage that was presented to the grand jury.

    “They do not show the dragging” of a child, she said. “They do not show the slamming him in the mat. They do not show them picking him up waist-high and then slamming him down and dragging him off.”

    She also said grand jurors were not shown a child being grabbed by the hair to make her sit, another child who was grabbed by the ear to make him sit, or one who was “popped in the mouth.”

    In addition to reporting the alleged abuses to police detectives and her lawyer, Mendez said she and three other parents upset by the alleged mistreatment of their children reported the information they had to the district attorney’s office.

    Physical discipline of children in a day care setting is prohibited, Mendez noted.

    “You cannot discipline a child (with) anything physical. You cannot do anything of that matter. You cannot spank them. You can’t pinch them. You can’t pull their hair. You can’t even thump them.”

    Mendez said she and seven other parents whose children allegedly were abused at the day care were hoping their attorney and the district attorney would reopen the cases under a different charge.

    “We were all kind of hoping to do that,” she said. “And what we understood was they were supposed to take it back to the grand jury. And now, they’re saying that they’re not because there’s no new evidence, which that still does not make sense to me. I think that they have enough.”

    Asked for her reaction to the charges against her former employees and the grand jury’s no bills, the academy’s owner declined comment on the matters.

    “I’m not going to comment on this,” Rice said. “I’m not going to comment on anything, because I have not been told anything yet. I don’t want to make any comments right now, because that has not even been told to me yet. I just would like to not make any comments at this time.”

    Allegations of abuse toward the children at Treehouse Academy in 2020 resulted in Johnson, Jackson and Griffin being charged for the alleged offenses and arrest warrants issued by officers of the Crockett Police Department (CPD).

    After the first warrant was issued for Johnson, she turned herself in to authorities April 26, 2020, on the charge of abandoning or endangering a child — a state jail felony offense — at Treehouse Academy after the initial stages of an investigation. She was released on a $50,000 bond later that day.

    Jackson turned herself in to law enforcement personnel on the same charge the next day. She was released the day after on a bond in the same amount as Johnson’s.

    Wednesday, May 6, 2020, Crockett police detectives issued an arrest warrant for Griffin, also on abandoning or endangering a child, and she turned herself in to the authorities the next day. She also was released from jail on bond, but one of a smaller amount.

    The allegations of abuse toward children at Treehouse Academy were in regard to the 2- to 3-year-old (children) class.

    In an April 16, 2020 statement, Crockett Police Chief Clayton Smith said detectives met with the day care’s administrative personnel and obtained surveillance camera recordings during initial stages of the investigation. A follow-up statement on Monday, May 4, 2020 said the initial investigation began with abuse allegations in the two- to three-year-old classroom, but expanded to include all age groups and classrooms.

    Smith stated then that Treehouse Academy executives and staff members cooperated with police department detectives throughout the thorough investigation.