Chief Swindle Defends Discipline of Tyler Officer

Chief Gary Swindle defended his decision Wednesday to send Officer J.R. Smith home following a complaint from the Texas College president.

He says he never expected officer Smith not to give president Hawkins tickets because of who he is. He went on to say preferential treatment was not a factor.

But sources inside the P.D. who didn't want to go on camera call it just that.

Channel 7 news sat down with Chief Swindle Wednesday to look at the videotape of the traffic stop involving Hawkins and officer Smith.

On the tape, Hawkins does identify himself as the president of Texas College and Smith simply says, "that's fine."

Swindle says he pulled the tape after Hawkins called to complain about the officer's attitude. Swindle calls the officer's demeanor rude, short and the reason he was called off the STEP traffic enforcement, thus cutting his overtime.

"There was no request by Dr. Hawkins to dismiss the tickets or that he deserved special treatment to me and there was no expectations of that to the officer to the interview with the officer and the viewing of the tape," says Chief Swindle."

Though Dr. Hawkins is out of town he released this statement that says, "I did not expect, nor try to avoid receiving a traffic ticket because of my position in the community... I was treated rudely by the officer making the stop and that is my only complaint."

"This was a performance issue not related to the charges not but how the officer conducted himself during the stop," says Chief Swindle.

The Patrolman's Association also approached Chief Swindle about their concerns, but tonight they want to go on record as saying the department's not in turmoil over the officer Smith's discipline.

President Royce Jordan says, "The situation was resolved internally and to the satisfaction of the Tyler Patrolman's Association, the board members and those who approached us about the situation."

Now officer Smith's been re-schooled in traffic protocol to the chief's satisfaction. Still, Chief Swindle says he's not changing his demands on any officer to show respect to citizens even if it brings attention to the department.