CUNEY – The Cuney Police Department has resigned, while the town's only other full-time employee has gone on medical leave due to stress.
On Tuesday, Police Chief Michael Trawick, tendered his resignation five days after two reserve officers resigned their positions. Leonard Tenner, a part-time officer with Cuney PD, reigned Tuesday alongside his boss.
In a May 31 letter addressed to newly elected Mayor Grace Beal, Trawick noted that he was “giving my two weeks' notice,” cashing in 10 of 30 vacation days accrued during his tenure.
“I have enjoyed working for the city, but it is time that I make a change in my life. I would like to the say to the City of Cuney, thank you for the years we have worked together,” he said.
Trawick was hired by the city as an officer in 2004 and subsequently named police chief in 2005.
Meanwhile, City Secretary Gladys Williams, the only other full-time city employee, began a medical leave of absence Tuesday due to stress.
“The doctor said all of this stress is not good for me,” Williams explained. “(My leave) starts today.”
Both Trawick and Beal have said that with no local police force in place, the job falls to the Cherokee County Sheriff's office to patrol and uphold the law in Cuney, which has a population of 140, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
“Right now, it's Sheriff (James) Campbell and the county (on patrol),” Trawick said. “He has advised that he'll get his deputies to take care, monitor the city. And he's aware of things (going on in Cuney).”
Both Williams and Trawick contend that it has been difficult to work with Beal, a former city alderman who was sworn into office earlier this month after being declared an unopposed write-in candidate for the mayoral race.
“Every day is something different – she is harassing,” said Williams, who began working as city secretary in March 2015. “There is so much stress here. She said she didn't want this to be a friendly and familiar office – she doesn't want us to get along, basically. Those were her words. She did not want 'friendly and familiar.'
“Mike and I have a great camaraderie, we don't have any problems. We do everything we can to keep everything running smooth in this office, but I get these notes, 'who hired you, who trained you?' Why am I still being harassed?” she said, adding, “to think, we're doing this with no benefits: We do not have insurance, we do not have 401K, we do not have anything like that. So we're doing a darn good job, but we're not being paid properly for it, so why would you harass people that are trying to help you?”
Trawick admitted to tension in his relationship with Beal.
“I've talked to the Texas Rangers. I've talked to the constable. I've talked to a deputy with the sheriff's office. I've talked to the NAACP … she said I tried to shoot her, that I pulled a gun on her and tried to shoot her,” he said. “I said, 'what are you talking about?' She called in and wanted something done to me. I've got letters she's submitted to the council that she wanted me dismissed; she wanted me put under investigation over the years.”
He believes Beal's accusation stems from a terse discussion in which he became upset when Beal, then an alderman, witnessed an incident, but “flat refused” to submit a statement about a theft, “and I kinda raised my voice at her, because I can't understand why would you want me to investigate something, do something, and you're the only one seeing it, but you don't want to do anything about it.”
He also believes that age and racial differences may also be part of the reason their relationship isn't as smooth as he hoped.
“I'm not trying to get black and white, no disrespect, but I think there are some black and white issues between me and her,” he said, adding he felt Beal had “no respect” for his office.
The reason for his resignation “is a little bit of everything,” Trawick said.
“For the most part, I feel that Grace is taken the next step beyond me,” he said, adding that he hopes to continue his career in law enforcement. “This is a stepping stone in my life, and I want to continue. I hope that whatever I've done here follows me in a good ending.”
Beal said Tuesday that until Trawick tendered his notice, she had no idea that he was going to resign his position.
“This morning was the first indication of it. Friday, he was happy with everything, pleased with everything; this morning he walked in to give me his resignation. I asked him, 'what happened?' ” she recalled, adding “everything good” when asked what would happen next.
At one point, nearly a dozen people were gathered outside of the Cuney City Hall, watching events unfold. Along with past mayors Charles Cross and Oscar Birdow, a young woman called in by Beal to begin training for a part-time position assisting the offices of city secretary and municipal court, was there, too.
“I asked her to come in for training. I told her that the secretary started on sick leave today, but that (leave of absence) wasn't known to me until today, and so we'll have to put a hold on (the training),” Beal said, noting that the part-time assistant's position was something the council “took up” when it was noted “that the secretary was not to hold both positions.”
However, Elizabeth Jenkins, the new hire, seemed surprised by the activity outside of City Hall on Tuesday.
“I didn't know this riff was going on – I would have stayed home,” she said.
As the group gathered outside, Beal bolted the front door to City Hall, periodically allowing access inside, including the two Cherokee County Sheriff's deputies responding to her call for assistance to remove Birdow, whom she said was there to harass her.
The deputies later told Beal that in speaking with the former mayor, they suggested that he take up his issues during city council meetings, which are regularly held the second Tuesday of the month.
Some folks remained at the location mid-morning, in hopes of answers from Beal, who remained inside her office.
The Cuney Police Department has resigned, according to officials.
On Tuesday morning, Cuney Police Chief Michael Trawick turned his letter of resignation in to newly-elected Mayor Grace Beal. Trawick said his two reserve officers resigned this past Thursday, and his part-time officer has also given his resignation.
According to reports, the Cuney city secretary has taken medical leave due to stress.
Progress Reporter Jo Anne Embleton is in Cuney, and we will publish more on this story as information is released.