City of Marfa cites accountability issues for not renewing contract with sheriff’s office

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MARFA -- In a 3-2 vote, the Marfa City Council decided to reestablish a city police department instead of resigning their contract with the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office.

The decision was made during Tuesday night’s city council meeting after the two entities couldn’t reach an agreement for several months.

One of the disagreements Sheriff Danny Dominguez has is dedicating three deputies to patrol within the city limits only.

In the previous contract the city paid for the three officers.

Another disagreement was having the sheriff turn in tickets to the municipal court and not to the Justice of the Peace Office.

“We were asking for a number of changes, we wanted to increase the number of deputies [and] we also wanted to increase the amount we paid them,” said Mayor Dan Dunlap. “We also had some accountability issues that we wanted to address and the sheriff found some of these issues to be objectionable and would not agree to them.”

City Attorney Teresa Todd shed some light on those accountability issues the city had with the Sheriff’s Office during Tuesday’s meeting.

Todd showed council and those in attendance court documents that reveal the sheriff’s office failed to follow protocol in seven different child sexual assault cases within the last eight years.

According to Todd, the sheriff’s office took the initial reports on the cases, but failed to attend the forensic interviews.

“They said they were too busy to attend and an Alpine police officer or Brewster County Sheriff’s deputy had to step in instead for each case,” said Todd.

Sheriff Dominguez said if his deputies didn’t show up, it had to be for a good reason. He said he plans on looking up each one of these cases to find out why they couldn’t make the forensic interviews.

“As a prosecutor, victims and people deserve better than this,” said Todd.

Todd feels city council made the right move to end their contract with the sheriff’s office.

In the coming weeks, the city will be working to resurrect the police department with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. That includes hiring officers and getting policies and procedures in order.

"I'm still going to work the city like I have before," said Sheriff Dominguez. "I'm still going to give tickets, nothing is going to change except the budget for the police department, the city's budget is going to go higher and they're going to have more responsibilities. I wish them well."