Tiny Texas Town With 250 Residents and 50 Cops Fires Its Entire Police Department After Ticket Scandal

Tiny Texas Town Fires Entire Police Dept.
The tiny Texas town of Coffee City is looking for a new police chief, who will have to hire an entirely new department.Coffee City Police Department

A tiny Texas town with one cop for every five residents disbanded its police department and fired the police chief after $1 million in tickets issued.

A very small town in Texas, which had five cops for every resident, has fired its entire police department after a local station reported tickets totaling more than $1 million had been issued by officers.

The city council of Coffee City spent less than 15 minutes mulling the future of its police department before voting earlier this month to fire the chief and his 50-member staff.

The mass firings occured after an investigative series by KHOU-TV reported that citations issued by officers last year resulted in more than $1 million in fines, and that half of the department’s 50 officers "had been suspended, demoted, terminated or dishonorably discharged from their previous law enforcement jobs," the station said, citing personnel records obtain under a Freedom of Information request.

Police Chief JohnJay Portillo had also neglected to disclose an open DUI case in Florida, the station reported.

Inside Edition Digital has reached out for comment to former chief Portillo.

Coffee City had 50 sworn officers for a town of 250 residents, which is five times the number of cops for any town of its size, according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement records, the report said.

The town is located in northeast Texas, on the shores of Lake Palestine.

"There were things that we weren’t aware of and that really just opened our eyes," Coffee City Mayor Jeff Blackstone said after last week's vote to can the entire department. "There’s major changes that have got to be made, and made quickly," he said.

City officials said they are looking for a new chief, who will have the discretion to hire a new force.

Meanwhile, law enforcement calls will be handled by neighboring sheriff's deputies, officials said.

Residents have since come forward to contest their traffic tickets, saying they shouldn't have to pay fines issued by officers who are now fired.

“I intended to come up here with the hopes of getting the ticket dismissed since they dismissed all their policemen,” Steve Prather, who was at Coffee City Hall, told KETK-TV.

“I just paid them $315 to get a deferred adjudication,” Prather said.

Another resident told the station he has $11,000 worth of tickets that he considers unlawful now that the officers have been terminated.

City Hall workers said the fines still must be paid, or contested in court, to avoid arrest, the station reported.

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