Smith Appointed as Crockett’s Interim Police Chief

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – The city of Crockett has a new, interim police chief following the appointment of CPD Lt. Clayton Smith to the position. The move became necessary with the announcement of Chief David “Buddy” Cross’ decision to retire from law enforcement.

As a direct result of this, a special meeting of the Crockett City Council was convened on Friday evening, Dec. 7 in order to accept the retirement of Cross and to appoint an interim chief to fill the position.

Once the meeting was called to order, the council went into executive session to deliberate the matter. Approximately 30 minutes later, the city leaders emerged from behind closed doors and made their announcement.

A motion was made, seconded and unanimously approved to waive the standard 30-day notice before leaving the position and accept the retirement of Cross.

The next issue addressed was the appointment of an interim chief.

“That will be Clayton Smith,” Mayor Joni Clonts announced.

Following his appointment, Smith addressed those in the council as well as those present in the council chambers.

“I want to say that I appreciate the opportunity that I have been given,” the interim chief said. “We will try and do great things in the city. I want y’all to know and everyone who is here tonight to know I have an open door policy. It is open to any problems you may have. If we don’t know about it, we can’t fix it.”

Smith stressed under his command, the police department would follow the rule-of-the-law, no matter how unpopular that may be.

“Our guys, including myself, will have integrity and we will be ethical about the decisions we make. Those decisions may not be popular, but that’s what we will live by. We will be very strict on the streets. I have zero tolerance for drugs that get into the hands of our children. We will also be out in the community a lot and we will be very active with our children and ourcitizens so we might know what problems are going on,” he said.

Following Smith’s appointment, a measure to approve a tax abatement request from a business known as Texas Futura was brought before the council. The company and the city are in negotiations pertaining to the proposed development of a waste oil recycling facility.

A motion was made, seconded and approved to table the matter until a later date. Councilman Ernest Jackson requested City Administrator John Angerstein to explain the reasons behind the tabling of the motion.

“We are definitely open for business in Crockett,”Angerstein said. “There are some issues with the paperwork and the naming of the company which were not clarified. There are a few issues in the agreement that need to be cleaned up before we go forward.”

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned.Following the adjournment, the interim chief was asked what the citizenry of Crockett could now expect from the Crockett Police Department.

“First of all, like I said in the meeting, I plan to have an open door policy. I want anyone who has a problem to feel comfortable about coming in and talking to me. We will go by the rule-of-the-law. Those decisions may not be popular, but that is how I will conduct business,” Smith explained.

He re-iterated his plan to be strict on the enforcement of drug laws because he said illegal drugs always seem to wind up in the hands of a child.

“We will see increased patrols in the neighborhoods. I want our guys to be out and visible. That’s something people will notice in their neighborhoods, in between calls for service. We are looking forward to getting back out into the community and being involved in different activities with the children – and adults for that matter – so they are more comfortable with us,”Smith said.

Asked if he planned any type of internal re-organization,the interim chief said there could be some “… but there won’t be any crazy obnoxious changes.”

Smith was also asked if he hoped to have the word interim removed from his title.

“I would be lying to you if I told you I didn’t want to one day be Chief of Police for this department. My goal is to work very diligently to show the council and mayor that they can count on me. I know I have a lot of support from my officers and in the community. Throughout my 15 or 16 year career in law enforcement, this is what you work for. I hope that will change one day, but as of right now, I will take the title I have been given and work hard with that,” Smith said.

No time frame has been given to fill the police chief’s position on a permanent basis. 

Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.