The Alvin City Council passed its annual budget 5-2 on Sept. 19 despite the concerns of two councilmen who believed the city needed to allocate money for the addition of more police officers over the next year than originally planned.
Councilmen Gabe Adame and Adam Arendell suggested the addition of four new police officers during a workshop discussing the city’s homeless issue Sept. 5, after Derra Purnell of Olson & Olson Attorneys at Law said the city may need to increase its police presence to tackle the specific violations that can accompany homelessness, as such violations can often only be cited if witnessed by a law enforcement officer.
Adame and Arendell gained the support of the council during the workshop to instruct city staff to examine the possibility of revising the budget to include the new police personnel and one police vehicle.
“Yeah, well, that didn’t get done, and so I was actually quite upset in the sense that apparently there was some conversation that happened after the fact and councilmen calling [City Manager Junru Roland] and letting him know that they had a change of heart,” Adame said.
Adame claimed he was never notified that the position had been made not to include the additional policemen in the budget.
“Nobody called me to say, ‘Hey, Gabe, you know, we’ve kind of thought about this and had a change of heart,’ and then apparently the mayor had told the city manager that he was going to call all of the councilmen to let them know that this had happened. I did not get a phone call,” Adame said.
Adame could be seen during the vote holding up four fingers and quietly asking Councilman Joel Castro what had happened to the four police officers. Castro informed him they had been removed.
Later, as the council adjourned to an executive session, Adame made a comment about “backroom politics.”
Arendell, who voted with Adame against the budget for the same concerns, said he was aware of the change before the vote and believed that Adame had been notified, as well. Mayor Paul Horn said he did notify Adame, but it has been more difficult to communicate with him recently.
“Part of the problem is — my problem is he got a new cell phone number a while back, and I didn’t have his new cell phone number, so I haven’t been communicating to him as well as I should have. That’s my fault, not his,” Horn said.
Though he knew about the situation ahead of time, Arendell said he was still disappointed and claimed more staff was needed to accommodate annexed areas.
“We’re having to patrol 288 now and 1462 and that’s — you know, when there’s a major wreck out there or something that really puts a strain on our resources,” Arendell said.
Arendell added that the city also needed more EMS personnel, public works employees and other municipal staff.
Adame said “the safety of this community is paramount,” and that the additional officers are needed in anticipation of the explosive growth in both Alvin and Manvel that will bring more human activity to Alvin.
Adame said he has also received multiple messages regarding the aggressiveness of homeless individuals on and near the Tom Blakeney Jr. Hike & Bike Trail and believed that more officers are needed to effectively patrol the community when accidents or major calls keep multiple on-duty units occupied and concentrated at one location for extended periods of time.
“You can’t negotiate citizen safety,” Adame said. “There’s no negotiating that.”