Image: Former City of Montgomery Police Chief Jim Napolitano (right) with one of his favorite citizens.
Montgomery, January 2 – Former City of Montgomery Police Chief Jim Napolitano sent a demand letter, threatening to sue, to the City of Montgomery County on December 17, 2018, after the City’s Mayor Sarah Countryman, City Council member Rebecca Huss, and Police Lieutenant Joe Belmares disparaged Napolitano during a December 11, 2018, City Council meeting. Under a written separation agreement, the City of Montgomery County formally agreed not to disparage Napolitano.
Countryman and Huss have developed a political relationship with Belmares and decided to try to move Napolitano out of the Chief’s position. After Napolitano disciplined Belmares, who has had a difficult job history with several previous law enforcement agencies for which he worked, Countryman and Huss moved to terminate Napolitano. Instead of terminating Napolitano, however, the former Police Chief and the City Council worked out a settlement agreement under which the City would pay Napolitano through February while Napolitano would agree to leave his position voluntarily. That agreement, however, contained a provision requiring both sides not to disparage one another in public.
During the December 11 City Council meeting, however, Belmares very vocally blamed Napolitano for the substantially lower arrest rates and ticket rates which the City’s Police Department has suffered after Countryman and Huss forced Napolitano into retirement. Rather than admitting responsibility for the poorer quality of management of the Police Department after Napolitano left, Belmares has made the tenuous argument that Napolitano should somehow receive the blame for conditions as they changed after Napolitano left as the Police Chief.
On December 17, 2018, Napolitano’s attorney sent a demand letter to the City Attorney, Larry Foerster, that the City immediately cease and desist from disparaging Napolitano and notifying the City that Napolitano intends to seek damages from the City for its breach of the separation agreement.
Two current City employees disclosed the contents of Napolitano’s letter to The Golden Hammer on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. Napolitano declined to comment.
The City has attempted to hide the letter notifying the City that it is in breach of the Napolitano separation agreement and has refused to disclose the contents of the letter under the Texas Open Records Act. Instead, the City has asked Attorney General Ken Paxton to rule that it may continue to hide the contents of the letter from the public.
A current Montgomery Police Officer wrote in an anonymous guest article in The Golden Hammer on December 18, 2018:
“The professional police department that Montgomery finally had [under Napolitano as Chief] is falling apart at the hands of the interim police chief Lt. Joe Belmares, who has shown up as a key player that was lurking in the shadows during the attack of Chief Napolitano. Once the Chief was out the door, his role and relationship with Mayor Countryman quickly came into the light. Almost instantaneously, Countryman began hanging around the police department with Belmares throughout each day. Since day one she never once treated Napolitano with the same courtesy. She entered the office of Montgomery Mayor with a chip on her shoulder towards Napolitano even being quoted ‘Just because he was secret service does not qualify him to be a chief.’ ‘He could have been an accountant for them, how does that qualify him to be chief.’
“The morale of the police department is falling apart. Work production is down because of the micromanaging that has been implemented by Belmares and his newly appointed Sergeant George Hernandez. Talk about another not qualified for a supervisory position? Hernandez more than likely would have never been promoted under Napolitano’s administration due to his low work performance and just being lazy. But since he and Belmares have a long time friendship from Harris County Precinct 4, he was appointed to the position of sergeant. It was not a posted job where everyone had the opportunity to apply and interview so the best candidate could be chosen for the job but instead he was appointed. Now one of the laziest police officers Montgomery has ever had supervises the other officers telling them to do things he never did as an officer, because it consisted of work.
“The officers are also scared to do their jobs due to the new regime being extremely fast to place an officer on disciplinary. Traffic stops and citations are at an all time low along with proactive arrest. The Montgomery Police Officers have always been known to be some of the most proactive officers in the county by being on the street catching the criminal element before they were able to commit crimes. Now we don’t see the officers patrolling the community and being proactive as the citizens are used to seeing.”