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Mabton hiring freeze leaves police force short-handed

MABTON - At a regularly scheduled meeting last week Mabton City Council members unanimously approved a hiring freeze, which coincided with the departure of two of the city's full-time police officers.

As it stands now, this leaves the police department with one full-time officer and a reserve officer. A third reserve officer is also available, according to Councilman Angel Reyna.

Reyna said a recent exit interview with state auditors regarding city finances has left council vigilant in the overseeing of city spending.

In terms of the hiring freeze, he said, "The biggest piece is the financial piece. We don't know where we're at (financially).

"We have to take care of that before we move forward in hiring someone."

He said council as a whole wants to move the city forward as a team. There's a lack of trust for some council members, he said, in terms of Mayor Velva Herrera's handling of personnel matters, namely the re-instated public works employee that Herrera terminated and was later found guilty of discriminating against.

"We want to work together to move forward as a team in terms of mapping out the strategy (to handle the financial situation). We want to ensure that financial (component) is in place. It's interrelated to hiring (new staff)," Reyna said.

Herrera was asked last week what the plan is in terms of the police department. "That's a good question," she said. "I'm working on that now."

Herrera has not returned phone calls since last week.

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