The City of Clarksville currently has no active officers on duty after the Chief of Police Mark Gable and Sgt. Jerry Goodson were terminated and given dishonorable discharges for alleged insubordination during a special council meeting on Monday night.
“It seemed that the outcome had been determined before the meeting even began,” said Gable. “Whilst I have still been working, I have been on medical leave since the end of the year due to complications from COVID in which I got while working.”
Gable said while on leave, Sgt. Goodson was put on administrative leave on Mar. 22, 2023, by Mayor Ann Rushing pending a fitness of duty evaluation following a Facebook post made by Goodson regarding his own struggles with mental health.
In the Facebook on Mar. 14, 3023, Goodson said he had a “breakdown and needed help” and went through a “mental health crisis without seeing the help that he needed.” He continued by sharing that he was “able to seek some counseling with a local pastor, and that helped tremendously.”
Goodson then encouraged those who need help to get the help they need and commended those who support those who do get help.
“I am proud of you. For those who support those who do get the help they need, I commend you. I am proud of you.”
After being placed on administrative leave, Goodson filed criminal charges against Mayor Rushing with the Red River County Sheriff’s Office, citing Official Oppression, Tex. Pen. Code Section 39.03, a Class A misdemeanor.
Typically, placing an officer on administrative leave would be up to the Chief of Police but because Gable was on medical leave, Mayor Rushing made the call.
“They never spoke to me about putting Goodson on administrative leave and when I asked for documentation because he is my employee, I was told to ‘stay out it’,” said Gable. I have still been working the whole time I’ve been off, but I was told to stay out of this.”
Gable said he filed a grievance against the mayor for oppression and both he and Goodson asked to be put on the agenda for the City Council meeting on Mar. 21, 2023, but they were not on the agenda.
Goodson did settle for three minutes to address his grievances with Mayor Rushing where he shared his concerns of Rushing “overstepping her authority several times” and that he believes his suspension has “nothing to do with his mental health status.”
He stated that he had “refused unlawful orders and orders she (Rushing) had no authority to make, some of which were in direct conflict with Chief Gable.”
Gable said those orders were in relation to the mayor requesting the code to the police department and that both he and Goodson refused as only sworn peace officers or certified personnel are allowed access.
“After speaking with the Criminal Justice Information Services, I sent a text message to the mayor informing her that it was illegal to give her access,” said Gable. “They ordered me to arrest the mayor if she went unattended into the police department and, in fact, I could have been arrested if I allowed her back there unattended.”
On Apr. 13, 2023, Goodson wrote on social media that he “doesn’t feel safe working in that environment” and that “there’s no telling what kind of powerplay Mayor Rushing and some council members may try next to perpetuate this absurdity.”
Dear Chief. Yesterday, Mayor Ann Rushing continued in her quest to “gaslight” me by shutting down city hall shortly after lunch because I returned to work. During that “shutdown”, she hired a contractor to attempt to break in to the police department. Councilman Babe Higgins attempted to suspend me, again, based off of my returning to work after determining Mayor Rushing’s suspension was invalid. I don’t feel safe working in that environment. There’s no telling what kind of powerplay Mayor Rushing and some council members may try next to perpetuate this absurdity. My presence has become no longer about enforcing the law and protecting the city, but about the Mayor vs. the Police Department. Therefore, I am removing myself from that situation. I have secured the police department as best as I could. I have already removed my personal belongings from there, and I have left all of my department-issued items, equipment, etc. at the department (to include my department-issued firearm), save for my keys and cellphone. I’ll return both of those to you in person. I am removing myself from the schedule, at least until the next council meeting, to see if just maybe the council can make sense of all of this. Regretfully, -=Sgt. Jerry A. Goodson=- .”
On Apr. 17, 2023, a special city council meeting was called in which deliberation regarding the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee, or to hear a complaint or charge against an officer or employee — Mark Gables, Police Chief and Jerry Goodson, Police Sergeant, was on the agenda to discuss.
More than 50 citizens attended the meeting in support of Gable and Goodson; however, both were terminated and given dishonorable discharges for alleged insubordination.
“They still refused to hear our grievances and we were fired with ‘dishonorable’ on our F-5 form,” said Gable.
“After the amazing showing of the citizens of Clarksville, it appeared to me it was the city council who was insubordinate…if nothing else, this has exposed the council as NOT listening to those THEY work for…the citizens,” Goodson posted on social media.
He continued, “I cannot express how blessed I am to have so many folks turn out to support us. Your presence was certainly felt. Sadly, it wasn’t Mark or I who ‘lost.’ The mayor and some select council members may have felt a ‘victory’ tonight, but it’s the citizens who lost. I’ll be keeping them in my prayers, because that’s all I can do for them, now.”
Gable said, “I implore you (citizens of Clarksville) to get involved in your city government. It is time for a change and the only way to stop what happened to me and SGT Goodson I’d you the citizens to step up and run against the sitting council members and to vote them out of office. There have been to many times that certain people have ran unopposed and got to keep their seat on the council, this is why things stay the same and never get any better for the city. God bless the citizens that supported me as Chief and SGT Goodson and for the ones that sit at the high table that were against us.”
On Sunday, officer Lori Croft resigned from the Clarksville Police Department, sharing the following on Facebook early Monday morning.
“With a heavy heart, I officially resigned from my position at the Clarksville Police Dept. The only thing I will say on the matter is, I came back as a favor to my chief & I could not abide by being told I could not contact him at times when I needed him. I’m not sure if I will continue a career in Law Enforcement at this time. Which breaks my heart bc I used to LOVE my job. I just wanted to say a quick farewell to the citizens of the City of Clarksville and really all of Red River County.”
myparistexas.com reached out to Mayor Rushing who confirmed both Gable and Goodson were terminated due to insubordination, however she had no further comment on it.
Rushing did confirm that Red River County Sheriff’s Office is currently overseeing the City of Clarksville and that DPS can be called if need be.