City of Plum Grove picks Joslin as new police chief

John Joslin and former Plum Grove Mayor Lee Ann Penton-Walker are pictured in October 2020 after Joslin was selected as police chief. He was terminated from that position on Monday, March 14. (File photo)

The City of Plum Grove is reactivating its police department and has picked Cleveland resident John Joslin as the new police chief. His employment will be effective in January 2021 when his term as Liberty County Pct. 6 constable comes to an end.

The decision to hire Joslin was made at the Oct. 12 city council meeting with three council members voting unanimously in favor of it. Two others were absent from the meeting due to illness and work. The job comes with an annual salary of $41,000 plus medical insurance and other benefits.

Joslin has 28 years in law enforcement and has worked for the cities of Splendora and Cleveland, and Beaumont ISD Police Department. He served eight years as constable but lost his reelection bid in March when voters picked Zack Harkness to be the new Pct. 6 constable.

Plum Grove Mayor Lee Ann Penton-Walker believes the election loss is Plum Grove’s gain. She says that hiring him as chief is the final piece to plans she had in mind when she became mayor. As she is not running for reelection in the Nov. 3 election, it will be up to the new council and mayor to see the reactivation of the police department through to fruition.

“I made some promises to the residents of Plum Grove and I have fulfilled them all,” she said. “I promised that we would have building codes, good attorneys and engineers, city taxes and a police department.”

Penton-Walker described Monday night’s meeting as a “power girl moment,” knowing she had lived up to her promises.

“I have faith in whoever sits at this table after me. The council members and mayor are obviously residents of Plum Grove and are committed to the city since they chose to run for their seats. Their success will be our success,” said Penton-Walker.

Plum Grove’s police department was established during the 1970s, according to the mayor, and went inactive in 2005. As the boom in growth had not yet hit Plum Grove at that time, Penton-Walker said the police department might not have seemed necessary to city leaders. However, much has changed since then as the Grand Parkway’s next segment is located just south of Plum Grove, which is already bringing unprecedented growth in homes and businesses.

Before the police department can be fully mobilized, there are a number of things that must be accomplished, including reactivating the agency number with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, establishing a TX number from the Texas Department of Public Safety, and purchasing patrol vehicles, computers, desk, ticket-writing software and uniforms, said Joslin.

“There is a lot of work to do. There is nothing there. If it was an existing agency, it would be less challenging, but I am looking forward to the challenge and doing a great job for the citizens of Plum Grove,” he said. “It will be neat to build something from the ground up. I still don’t know what kind of budget the city has for the police department, but we are supposed to be meeting about that soon.”

The city also has okayed two part-time patrol positions.

“They will mainly be patrolling the city and its ETJ, but they might be called out to assist on other calls. They all have to show up to back each other up at times,” said Penton-Walker.

In other business at Monday’s meeting, Plum Grove City Council hired the investigating firm of Wayne Dolcefino.

“Wayne is already on to some issues that led to some of the decisions that were made by the County that impacted Plum Grove. We believe there are pieces of the puzzle that need further investigation and I have a pretty good idea of how it is going to go,” the mayor said.

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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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