Liberty police chief steps down

In this photo from Oct. 3, 2018, Liberty Police Chief Thomas Claunch visits with Liberty High School students during Coffee With a Cop at the Liberty Walmart.

Thomas Claunch is no longer chief of police for the City of Liberty.

At a special meeting on Thursday, Nov. 29, Liberty City Council and City Manager Tom Warner held a 30-minute executive session after which it was announced that the city had accepted Claunch’s voluntary retirement and separation agreement. The council then unanimously voted to accept the separation agreement.

Claunch will remain on paid administrative leave until his retirement date of Feb. 13, 2019. During this time, he will be paid his full salary and benefits.

City Attorney Brandon Davis said later that the decision to keep Claunch on the city’s payroll through February was based on the less-expensive option for medical benefits to satisfy the terms of Claunch’s contract.

The terms of the separation agreement say the city will not object to unemployment benefits for Claunch and the former chief will receive an honorable discharge from the city.

Claunch’s departure from the city followed an investigation that began after complaints were made against him by police department employees. The investigation was performed by an outside law firm, Olson and Olson LLP. The nature of the complaints are unknown but Davis said they were not criminal.

“It turned out it just wasn’t a good fit,” Davis said.

Claunch served as police chief for Liberty for more than three years, starting in April 2015 after his retirement as police chief for the City of Webster.

An emailed statement on behalf of the City of Liberty reads, “The City Council and staff thanks him for his dedicated service to the City of Liberty.”

While the city looks for a new police chief, Assistant Chief Gary Martin will serve as the interim police chief.

To see the separation agreement, click here.

By Vanesa Brashier,

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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