Ellis County Town Divided Over Fired Police Chief

Council takes no action on chief's appeal after two members walk out

The Ellis County town of Italy is divided over whether police Chief Scott Peters was fired for doing his job too well -- or not well enough.

"I want my job back," Peters said. "I mean if I did something wrong, I need to be punished. I didn't do anything wrong. I was doing my job."

Peters said he got crossways with some city leaders after his officers arrested the son of a city official on drug charges. He said he separately helped state investigators in a possible environmental crime involving another city leader.

"My integrity is all I have," Peters said. "I'm not going to compromise it and play a political game for anybody. I've been doing this too long."

Mayor Bryant Cockran signed Peters' termination letter, and accused him of being insubordinate by accepting a job to teach criminal justice while also serving as chief.

Peters admitted he accepted the job, but said it would not have interfered with his city duties and that he told city leaders about it.

But the chief's critics questioned his effectiveness fighting crime, and said he mishandled a still-unsolved murder investigation, which he denied.

The city council went meeting behind closed doors Monday night to talk about the chief. A short time later, two council members who supported Peters suddenly left city hall.

The mayor then announced no vote could be taken because they did not have a quorum.

The meeting quickly adjourned, which frustrated the chief's critics.

"They want to cause chaos," city council member Elmerine Allen Bell said. "For some, chaos is their way of life."

The mayor said he would call another meeting when a now-vacationing council member returned home.

Italy's population is about 2,000. It has nine full-time police officers.

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