Denison officially introduced Eric Newton to the City Council and the public as its new city marshal Monday night. Newton will be the first person to serve in this position since it went vacant in 2011 following the retirement of the previous marshal.
Newton comes to Denison from the city of Coppell, where he has served as a deputy city marshal for the past seven years. Newton brings with him about 17 years of law enforcement experience, including 12 in the state of Texas. Monday also served as his first day on the job after being hired in late February.
“Today has been a crazy whirlwind of a day while getting used to new surroundings,” he said.
Denison officials previously said the position was needed again to help resolve a growing list of outstanding class-C misdemeanor warrants within the city. The new position will not directly report to the Denison Police Department and will instead support the municipal court system.
“Right now, we are just trying to set up the new department, so now is the time to come in and set up a plan to resolve that warrant,” Newton said Monday afternoon.
The city marshal position was officially created in 2003, and remained open through 2011 when the previous marshal retired. As the position was left vacant, it was dissolved by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement that same year and needed to be established earlier this year.
The council first discussed reopening the position, and re-establishing the department with TCOLE, in mid-2018 during the council budget retreat.
“We have many outstanding warrants in our municipal court system,” City Court Administrator Chris Wallentine said. “We need to get them resolved and need someone solely focused on that.”
With the closure of the city marshal office, Denison officials said the city had few resources to pursue outstanding warrants for minor offenses, including traffic fines, code enforcement, animal control and penal code violations. Since 2013, city officials estimated more than 3,000 unresolved warrants have been issued, with an estimated value of about $1.1 million.
“Pretty much the only way someone was going to be caught was if they were arrested or stopped by a Denison officer,” Newton said.
Among his first projects will be to enter the warrants into a regional tracking system. Through this, Newton said officers in areas north of the Metroplex would be notified if someone they have stopped has an active warrant in Denison. From there, Newton could pick up those with a warrant and return them to the Denison city jail.
“Putting them into the regional system is only part one,” he said.
Once the warrants have been issued, Newton said he plans to try to get into contact with individuals who have an active warrant. If these efforts don’t resolve the outstanding warrants, Newton said he plans to meet individuals at their place of employment or home in order to make an arrest.
In addition to serving as the city’s warrant officer, Newton will also oversee security and serve as the bailiff for the municipal court. His first day with that duty will come Wednesday, Wallentine said.
How do you feel about this new city position in Denison? Let Michael Hutchins, the Herald Democrat’s Denison-area reporter, know at firstname.lastname@example.org or @mhutchinsHD on Twitter.