Proposal for county to handle law enforcement duties at Possum Kingdom Lake heard by BRA Board

Proposal for county to handle law enforcement duties at Possum Kingdom Lake heard by BRA Board

Possum Kingdom Lake visitors may soon see another type of uniform responding to calls and patrolling the reservoir.

The Board was presented with an option for an interlocal agreement with the Palo Pinto County Sheriff's Office for collaboration in providing a safe and secure environment for the public and BRA's critical infrastructure. 

A BRA internal study was prompted by difficulties filling and maintaining lake ranger positions at Possum Kingdom Lake, said Mike McClendon, BRA's upper basin regional manager. There are currently five lake ranger positions at Possum Kingdom Lake, and only two are filled. After considering several options and types of agreements, the BRA chose to explore a partnership similarly held in the past.
The BRA began employing guards and park or lake rangers in the early 1940s, McClendon said. Since 1966, several agreements have been forged between the BRA and the county for sheriff's deputy support.

As opposed to the BRA's Lakes Granbury and Limestone, PK sees a substantial number of visitors and is in a rural area. Also, a majority of the reservoir resides primarily within Palo Pinto County. Possum Kingdom Lake, located on the main stem of the Brazos River northwest of Fort Worth, covers an area of 16,716 acres with 219 miles of shoreline. The proposed agreement is modeled after ventures by other river authorities, water districts and similar organizations, McClendon said.

If approved by the BRA Board and Palo Pinto County Commissions, the agreement would allow the county to take over the law enforcement needs of the reservoir, including patrols of the Morris Sheppard Dam's critical infrastructure. The consolidation would eliminate duplication of effort and costs while better facilitating the coordination of resources and response to multi-jurisdictional incidents. 

PK and BRA property will be staffed by at least two full-time deputies and more on holidays that generate larger crowds if the proposed interlocal is implemented. In exchange, the interlocal agreement plans for the BRA to pay the county a sum to be determined upon completion of the agreement.

The BRA would also convey to the county two patrol vehicles and a patrol boat.

If the agreement is approved, the intent is to provide the current two BRA PK lake rangers an option to either apply with the county for the new positions or move into a different capacity with the BRA, McClendon said. The BRA would create two new positions called reservoir programs coordinator. The position would focus on public outreach, education, and holiday and weekend park upkeep, among other functions.

BRA General Counsel Lauralee Vallon said the interlocal agreement would include expectations of duties by the sheriff's office. The agreement also will include options for the BRA or the sheriff's office to end the agreement if it's not working out, she said.

Board member Jim Lattimore, Jr. said he's a resident at Possum Kingdom Lake and wholly supports this concept. He said he's seen the gaps in service between the sheriff's office and the BRA while jurisdiction is determined. 

The Board anticipates consideration of a resolution for the potential interlocal agreement at their regular bimonthly meeting in March. If approved by the county as well, the agreement could go into effect in April, McClendon said.