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2014-07-31

Peace officers - keep firearms holstered!

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Bandera County Fire Marshal John Stith was the subject of an executive session of county commissioners during a meeting on Thursday, July 24.
Although executive sessions are closed to the public, their contents can quickly become some of the worst kept secrets in Bandera County. Reliable sources not involved in the incident reported that while working in his office, Stith, a certified peace officer, had negligently left his presumably loaded sidearm in an area that was available to the public.
This breach in security protocol was reported to County Engineer Ray Rendon, whose office is in the same building. In turn, Rendon took the incident to Judge Richard Evans, who dealt with the matter in the executive session.
Since becoming a certified peace officer, Stith has carried a firearm, which, on occasion, has engendered criticism from the public. However, the State of Texas requires arson investigators to be armed. Stith is also a certified arson investigator.
In her capacity as the county's human resource administrator, auditor Christina Moreno was called into the closed session.
At the conclusion of the executive session, Precinct 1 Commissioner Robert "Bob" Grimes made a motion to "direct the fire marshal liaison to take appropriate action as discussed in executive session." Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris serves as liaison to the fire marshal. Presumably, a letter of reprimand will be placed in Stith's permanent file.
It should be noted that, while not common, incidents of this kind have happened to other law enforcement officers not only in this but also in surrounding counties.