Pubdate: Wed, 03 Sep 2003
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2003 Amarillo Globe-News
Bookmark: (Tulia, Texas)

Editorial -


Questions Remain In Community

Angie Trevino, Cindy Hurt, Rudy Moreno, Max Stephens, Larry Hawthorne and 
Barbara Yarbrough are carrying a burden.

The group represents Tulia's six-member civilian review board, announced 
last week as part of the ongoing attempts to reconcile and improve 
community relations in the Panhandle town of just over 5,000 people.

Tulia has been rocked since the controversial 1999 drug sting that resulted 
in the arrests of 46 people, 39 of them black.

The controversy became national news and left Tulia reeling from a wound 
that is just beginning to heal.

Time will tell if the six-member committee will aid in the healing process.

The committee, self-described as "Tulia Proving Its Motto" in reference to 
Tulia's slogan of "The Richest Land and the Finest People," carries a 
weighty responsibility.

In most cases, civilian review boards that scrutinize law enforcement are 
questionable, but Tulia is a unique case.

The board must take careful steps to review, research and investigate any 
claims or complaints brought to its attention.

The board must adopt a fine line between serving as a sort of vigilante 
force exacting revenge and a rubber-stamping of the will of public and 
private entities that are the focus of a complaint.

How well the board meets this objective will determine its success.

There are many questions that need answers before Tulia truly recovers.

Who will foot the bill for the reported economic improvements that have 
been discussed, such as a youth center, day-care operations and expanded 
drug treatment facilities?

Will these individuals or entities be around for the long haul when Tulia 
is no longer the focus of media attention?

Unquestionably, the problems that exist in Tulia can be found in many small 
Panhandle towns. In that regard, Tulia is not unique.

Hopefully, the members of the civilian review board recognize the 
responsibility placed before them and find a common ground for 
understanding, fairness and accountability that doesn't create more questions.
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