Voters decide: City of Kyle will see a new police HQ along with potential of more police oversight

Hays

KYLE, Texas (KXAN)– The day after elections brings change to the City of Kyle.

Residents voted in favor — 55.49% — of Proposition A, which will provide up to $37,000,000 for a new police station and emergency operations center.

Police Chief Jeff Barnett says he will now work to finalize the design of the facility.

“We are extremely excited about the approval of Proposition A to construct new police headquarters for the employees of the Kyle Police Department and for all of our citizens. The new facility will expand our opportunities to collaborate with the community and to better provide for our entire staff,” Barnett wrote to KXAN.

Along with the investment into physical space, residents also voted for more community partnership and, possibly, more oversight to the department through Proposition F.

“Growing up, where I came from–in the inner city of Houston, that was something that we didn’t have,” says Kyle City Council member Dex Ellison.

He says collaboration is the idea behind Proposition F.

“Building those relationships through community policing models, through different outreach programs,” Ellison explains.

Ellison says the chief already submits an annual report to city council, but it’s at the request of council. Prop F now makes that a requirement.

“I think this just, kind of, in large part compels the council to actually be proactive about getting those reports and setting the expectation for our police agency, our city administration and our community that these reports and data and information and resources will be available, and it will be on a consistent basis,” Ellison says.

Prop F also allows city council to create an oversight committee.

Ellison says that hasn’t happened yet and will be done by ordinance with public input.

He stresses that there is no change in the day-to-day oversight of the police chief or the police department; that will still the city manager’s responsibility.

An oversight committee would essentially act as a bridge between the police department and the community by helping gather and report information that the public “might find helpful to continuing its trust and comfort with the PD that serves them,” says Ellison.

The committee would also collaborate with police to identify best practices, policies and procedures.

“I think now that we have seen the public’s opinion and thoughts on the general infrastructure of police collaboration and community capital collaboration, now we can start to have public hearings and do the typical steps that we would make in order to get to an ordinance that would outline what that committee makeup would be, and what their goals and objectives would be.”

Dex Ellison, Kyle city council member

“Nationally, of course the death of George Floyd has increased everybody’s awareness of how to enforce the law more effectively and equitably,” says Mark Trahan, a member of Kyle’s 2020 Charter Review Commission.

The commission initially came up with the idea for the amendment.

Trahan and Ellison say it was not sparked by any incidents in Kyle.

Voters passed the measure by nearly 77%.

“It was unanimously adopted by our committee and the citizens clearly believe in a community collaboration model of policing,” Trahan says.

Ellison says voters sent a message by voting for both Propositions A and F.

“You can you can want both: to completely support your law enforcement agent and completely trust them and like the job they’re doing and then continue to want to build on that,” he says.

Other propositions passed

  • Kyle Prop B: $10,000,000 for parks in the city. Matching funds for these projects may also be available from the Hays County Parks Bond, or Hays County Proposition A, which also passed.
  • Kyle Prop C: City charter amendment “to require consent to annexation of land by the City as required by state law and to conform annexation and disannexation procedures to state law.”
  • Kyle Prop D: City charter amendment “to provide that the election precincts for City elections are those established by ordinance or state law and to provide that City Hall may be one of the polling places during City elections.”
  • Kyle Prop E: City charter amendment “to authorize the City Council to call elections on ballot propositions that are non-binding in nature when the council wishes to obtain an informal indication of the city’s voters on an issue.”

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