Odessa police chief resigns after reinstatement

Future of Odessa Police Dept. in question
Posted at 2:35 PM, Aug 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-19 00:25:33-04

Scott Newhouse has resigned under fire as Odessa police chief just a day after he was reinstated to that job.

In a closed-door session, the Odessa Board of Aldermen accepted Newhouse's immediate resignation.

Newhouse had been on paid leave for over a month after Odessa Police Officer Archie Strutton accused Newhouse of intentionally slamming a car door on him, injuring his leg and foot area.

A special prosecutor determined there wasn't enough evidence to charge Newhouse. As a result, Newhouse was reinstated as chief Tuesday night.

That same night Odessa police car tires were slashed outside the department.

Then Odessa Police Sergeant Chad Cobb and Officer James Kranbuhl both resigned. It means the small town department is now down a third of its full-time officers from 9 to 6. There are also four reserves.

Cobb, who served in the Odessa Police Department for 12 years, cited "morals and values" of city leaders as the reason for his resignation.

The resignations all happened as discussion continued with city leaders to possibly disband the Odessa Police Department and instead contract with the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office.

"It makes me very angry," explained Mary Hough, owner of a local sporting goods store. "It worries me a lot."

Hough said she has run her store, the Dawg House, for 15 years and has gotten to know local police.

With so much up in the air right now with Odessa police, Hough is concerned that crime may rise.

"I don't want to worry about my business," she said. "I don't want to have to put up bars on my windows."

Others around town, like Ariel Croew, worry that longer emergency response times could come as a result of having county deputies instead of city police.

"What if they're too far away and something serious happens?" said Croew. "That's another big problem."

As news of Newhouse's resignation spread around town on Thursday, Croew said she believed the community was being left in the dark.

"If all of these people are resigning, obviously there is some backstory behind it," explained Croew. "There is something behind it that we personally, as a community, don't know what's going on."

According to a news release from the mayor, City Administrator Mickey Ary will oversee the police department as he did during Newhouse's paid leave.

Ary twice declined to speak to 41 Action News reporter Tom Dempsey Wednesday night.

Odessa City Clerk Peggy Eoff said Ary began a previously planned vacation Thursday.

Calls to Ary, Mayor Adam Couch and Newhouse on Thursday were not returned. 

Newhouse recently on his request asked city leaders to let him out of his contract when it expires in November. But multiple sources told 41 Action News Newhouse was forced to resign immediately Wednesday night.

They said the Lafayette County Sheriff wanted Newhouse out as chief as a condition of his department covering shifts for Odessa police.

The sheriff and mayor were both unavailable for comment.

Officers and Odessa citizens have been concerned about a potential movement in city government to disband the police department and hire an outside contractor to handle public safety.

The relationship between police officers and the city has been tense.

An effort by the officers to unionize as part of their negotiations with the city didn't succeed.



Andy Alcock can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter

Follow @AndyAlcock2

Connect on Facebook