Public concern over actions of Calvert PD dominates Council meeting
The Calvert City Council opened its May meeting to a packed, standing-room-only council chamber as citizens and first responders came to express their frustration over recent incidents involving the Calvert Police Department.
Following the invocation and pledge, City Superintendent Kevin O’Carroll opened the meeting by reporting that Dollar General was about to begin construction and that the problems that had caused some recent power outages—booster pumps that had caught on fire--had been temporarily fixed. Replacing the booster pumps, however, would be expensive. A Brazos Valley Council of Governments sewer grant totaling $233,000 had been awarded to Calvert, and a problem with a lift station had been resolved.
Calvert Police Chief Nancy Juvrud reported that a recent drug bust had netted 20 grams of cocaine and an assortment of pills—all controlled substances—hidden in a child safety seat with the child in the seat.
In the “public comments” section of the meeting, one resident asked that the city replace the street sign on his section of Beech Street. He had medical problems, he explained, and emergency medical teams could not find his house because they could not find the right street. Another resident said she appreciated how much Calvert’s appearance had improved. Fallen limbs and stray dogs were both being picked up and the city’s over-all “look” was much better.
Roy Johnson and Melissa Freeman, representatives of the Boys and Girls Club of Robertson County (BGCRC), asked the city to pull down its “Child Safety” funds--funds that had been accumulating in the county’s coffers--for the Boys and Girls Club’s use. The funds can only be used to improve child safety, they can be used for Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Club is transporting Calvert kids to its Hearne location on Mondays and Thursdays, the two explained. Councilperson Bobbie Alford said she believed about 20 Calvert children had joined the Club. The Council said it would take up the question of how to use the funds in its next meeting.
Next, Assistant Fire Chief Keith Petitt was asked to speak about a report he had submitted to the Council at Mayor Marcus Greaves’ request. The report concerned an incident that happened on April 30. All Calvert emergency responders—EMS, the Calvert Volunteer Fire Department (CVFD) and the Calvert Police Department (CPD) were called to a medical emergency around midnight. While responding, Petitt observed one regular police officer, Officer Scott Sykora, confront a reserve officer, Scott Wilcox, telling him he should not be there and stating he should leave.
Petitt said in a subsequent interview had he believed the confrontation to be inappropriate at that time and place and told CPD Chief Juvrud he would like to speak to her about it the next day. Sykora observed the exchange and confronted Petitt, stated he wouldn’t be threatened, then claimed that Petitt shouted and pointed his finger at Sykora, a claim that may have appeared in Juvrud’s incident report (this reporter was not able to obtain that document).
On Monday night, Petitt said he did not shout or point his finger at Sykora, but in confrontations with Juvrud that followed, Petitt told the council, Chief Juvrud responded in a rather heated fashion to him. “I know you hate me,” she is reported to have said.
Councilperson Gilsie Wiese said she did not like to see friction between the city’s first responders. “It’s important that you all be able to work together.”
Next, resident Patricia Thweatt asked to speak to the council regarding an incident involving Officer Sykora and Officer James West. She said that her daughter, Megan and friend Erica Tygnet, had been walking down an alley near Railroad Street one evening when Sykora, who was off-duty at the time and out of uniform, started chasing the girls and demanding that they stop. Sykora, who had been called to assist West, reportedly believed the girls had been spray-painting graffiti on the old city hall building.
Two of the three ladies involved in the incident spoke after Ms. Thweatt. Megan Thweatt, a Mumford cheerleader, said she did not recognize Sykora when they proceeded to leave the alley and get into a car with the second girl’s mother, Angel Tygnet, who drove the group down Railroad Street. West’s police car blocked her vehicle a short distance from that point - about a block down Railroad. Miss Thweatt said that the police charged Tygnet with evading a police officer, a charge later changed to failure to obey a police officer (the police had been yelling at Tygnet to stop as she drove down the street. She said she could not hear them.) Following the stop, the Erica Tygnet said Sykora held a gun to her head, and she heard it “click.” He told her she could go to “big girl jail.” Tygnet is 17.
Thweatt said she had been thoroughly traumatized by the event, and, when she went to Chief Jurvud, the Chief had told Thweatt she appreciated her honesty. However, Mrs. Patricia Thweatt said, she did not believe Sykora’s punishment—a written reprimand—had been sufficient. She said Sykora had failed to identify himself, threatened her daughter, and officers had thoroughly searched the car for paint cans without the driver’s permission. The younger Miss Thweatt said she feared she would carry an arrest record with her, though she admitted the only ticket had been issued to Tygnet.
With a lot to discuss, the Council went into executive session for over two hours while most of the audience remained in the chamber. When the council returned, it approved the purchase of two tasers, both equipped with audio/video equipment to verify their proper use, specifying that training for taser use for CPD officers would be supplied by an outside source.
The Council also changed O’Carroll’s hours to allow him to be off on Fridays while still logging the required 40 per week. Wiese assured the girls that no charges of any kind had been issued against them and Tygnet’s had been reduced again. With no further comments from the council, the meeting adjourned.