DESOTO – The DeSoto City Council spent over four hours Tuesday evening, with the majority of the time discussing Public Hearings. Two were to rename the DeSoto Fire Training Center and the DeSoto Police Station.
These public hearings took center stage.
Council voted 6 – 1 to rename the Fire Training Center in honor of retired Firefighter Joe Brown, who staff noted was instrumental in developing the Firefighter Training Program and getting it certified through the State of Texas. One firefighter spoke in favor of the renaming before the final vote.
Place Three council member Nicole Raphiel was the lone no vote, primarily because she said there needed to be more public input. She also does not favor the swift changes she sees taking place without proper public input.
Brown was in the audience and said after the vote, “It is nice when someone recognizes you for the work that you have done. My narrative has always been these guys back here in the blue.”
Brown said he still sees the work the Fire Department is doing, and he appreciates it.
Council Member Place Six Crystal Chism submitted the application for renaming with the support of Place Four Council Member Andre Byrd.
DeSoto Council Discusses Renaming Police Station After Former Mayor Sherman
The second renaming, which did not pass in a 4 – 3 vote with Mayor Rachel Proctor, Byrd, and Place Seven Mayor Pro Tem Letitia Hughes voting in favor, was the renaming of the DeSoto Police Station in honor of Carl O. Sherman.
This desired name change was due to Sherman’s having been “elected as DeSoto’s first African American Mayor in 2010 and re-elected in 2013. In 2019, he was elected to the Texas State Legislature and re-elected in 2021 and 2023.”
Several residents in the audience spoke not in support of the renaming and several were in favor. It was also revealed that the application had been reviewed by the Citizens Police Advisory Committee (CPAC) at its June 26 meeting. They had voted no on the application to rename the DeSoto Police Station the Carl O. Sherman Public Safety Building.
Byrd said that Sherman had worked tirelessly in support of police matters while a Texas Representative. However, several residents who spoke suggested that the PD be renamed after an officer who worked in that line of duty.
CPAC Votes 5-2 Against Naming Police Station After Sherman
One CPAC member Tongee Flemming suggested the item be tabled, stating there needed more time to consider it because it was rushed onto their June agenda for a vote. CPAC Chair Donnie McClure confirmed Fleming’s comments and said CPAC eventually voted 5 – 2 not to name the facility after Sherman. It was also pointed out that two members did not vote because they needed additional information.
“When you go into the DeSoto Police Department, there is a line of Police Chiefs on the wall. Some of them would have to be equally qualified to meet that position,” said McClure. “I applaud Councilwoman Chism for nominating Mr. Brown, who worked for and retired from the Fire Department. So why not have someone from the police department who has put their life on the line day in and day out to protect and serve name to go on that facility.”
Resident Josephine Dewberry spoke against it and said she supports CPAC, and DeSoto has had a great police department. She did not think it should be named after Sherman because he never served in law enforcement.
Former council members Denise Valentine and Kay Brown Patrick also spoke; in this case, they favored the renaming. Valentine said she served with Sherman on the City Council and served with him in the trenches. She said, “He had to balance a lot of backlash and inherited a negative budget.”
She believed his tireless hours to balance the budget and not lay people off during that time, including anyone at the Police Department, was important. She mentioned that he was the first to get cameras for the Police Department, and he was always dedicated to his job.
Brown Patrick noted Sherman was the first mayor to bring body cameras for police to the state of Texas.
After lengthy comments, the vote to name the building after Sherman did not garner enough votes, and Sherman, who was in the audience, was asked if he would like to speak.
Sherman Says He’ll Continue To Work To Make The City Better
He said, “The work I did was because I loved our city,” it had been mentioned that he was the first black mayor, and there were challenges.
“I am grateful and have lived here 30 years,” Sherman added. “I am thankful for the opportunity I have had to work with different people here; I have seen them come and go. As your former mayor, I will continue to be faithful to my city.”
Overall, he said he didn’t want anything named after him. At one point, a former city council had wanted to name City Hall after him, but he disagreed. Sherman said he loves the city and did what he did as the mayor to make the city better and promised to continue to do so in the future.
While the council did not vote to bring this item back, it was clear the residents spoke and were heard, taking into account the voice of CPAC for future Police Department naming consideration.