Covington citizens feel safer after police chief's arrest

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on March 13, 2012 at 9:54 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 14 at 11:32 AM

Covington, Texas

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COVINGTON, Texas — A tiny town south of Fort Worth, Covington, Texas has no police officers and no leadership.

And many people who live there couldn't be happier.

One month ago, some residents told us they had been living in fear until News 8 exposed the police chief, who — they say — took over their town.

Covington City Council member Marty Smith said she lived in fear of the town's police chief, Wade Laurence. It had gotten so bad, former Fire Chief George Burnett started a petition to have the police department disbanded.

"The police chief and three other of his other police came down and were raising Cain about me getting this petition signed," Burnett said.

Just days after our story aired, the Texas Rangers made an arrest. It was the man who so many feared — Wade Laurence — busted on charges of alleged prescription fraud.

Smiles now on many faces in Covington say it all.

"I think there's a lot of relief," said Council member Rose Diaz.

On the agenda at Tuesday night's emergency council meeting was acceptance of the resignations of every officer, city worker, and Council member who had been affiliated with former Chief Laurence.

But just before the meeting began, and resignations could be accepted, Mayor Pro-tem Alan Snider — an ally of Chief Laurence and the man needed to make a City Council quorum — abruptly stepped down.

Yet citizens who had gathered met anyway, planning a future without the intimidation of the past.

"There is a peace among people now knowing that he's not here," said Covington resident Scott Parker. "They know that Laurence's officers who were mistreating people are no longer here. There's comfort now."

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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