Three new police officers are patrolling the streets of Cleveland following their swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the Cleveland Municipal Courtroom.
The officers – Kareem Bartlett, Richard Himburg and Billy Noey – are recent graduates of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Academy, a course that is offered through a partnership between Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and the College of the Mainland.
Two of the officers are filling positions that were vacant while one is a new position that was created by Cleveland City Council in the 2019-2020 fiscal budget, which was approved in September.
Noey is a familiar face in Cleveland. A resident of Cleveland, for the last three years, he has served as the animal control officer for the City of Cleveland. Himburg was born and reared in the Romayor area where he also volunteers as a firefighter.
Bartlett is originally from Cleveland but now lives in Kingwood with his wife.
Cleveland PD will add another officer in March 2020, a position that was budgeted by Council in September.
“Council has been very gracious with the police department,” said Chief Darrel Broussard.
The rookie officers will undergo several months of field training, working side-by-side with a veteran officer. Once they have successfully completed their field training, the officers will be allowed to patrol the city alone.
“Having them on board will allow us to be more proactive and visible,” said Patrol Capt. Scott Felts. “They will be a tremendous help with all the growth that continues to come to Cleveland.”
According to Felts, Council also authorized the purchase of two new patrol vehicles for the police department.
“Those vehicles will help support the two new positions that were added. We also have an aging fleet, so it will be a great benefit to have new vehicles,” Felts said.
Finding officers to fill open positions has become more challenging in recent years. In addition to competing with the higher wages offered by other agencies in neighboring communities in Montgomery and Harris counties, the field of candidates is shrinking, Felts said.
“Being a cop is harder than ever because people have become so confrontational,” Felts said. “Instead of being the extreme, it’s become the norm, which is discouraging to people who might consider this career. People stereotype police officers based on the extremes they see on TV.”
Felts is appreciative for the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office’s bi-annual police academy. He believes the agency is providing a two-fold service to the community by making law enforcement careers more available to residents of Liberty County and by providing well-trained rookies to smaller agencies like Cleveland PD.
“All of our new officers are from Liberty County. That is unique,” he said.