Local Fire Chief Arrested for Tampering with Government Records - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Local Fire Chief Arrested for Tampering with Government Records

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By: Stephanie Jacksis

BELL COUNTY-  Not even a month on the job, and a local fire chief might have to step down.  

Central Bell County's Fire Chief James Potter, 28, was hired about two weeks ago, but was arrested Thursday for driving with a suspended license and tampering with government records.

"For something like this to come along, just the black eye it gives us," Assistant Fire Chief Jason Worsdale said, "Whether it's a good arrest on P.D. or a bad arrest on P.D. it doesn't matter.  It makes us look bad."

A Nolanville officer stopped Potter at the corner of 10th and Avenue H.  The fire chief was driving a Fire and Rescue SUV without a valid driver's license.  

Nolanville Police Chief Gary Kent said Potter's license had been suspended for more than a year.  It was suspended for a DWI.

According to the arrest affidavit, when the officer asked Potter for a driver's license, the fire chief gave the officer what appeared to be a photocopy of a Florida Temporary Driving Permit. The officer checked to see if the permit was valid, but found out it wasn't.  Records say it was only an identification card, not a driver's license.

"Innocent until proven guilty," Chief Kent said.  "Just like any case, this case will also have it's day in court."

Worsdale said he's working with DPS to improve their current background investigation process. Instead of only checking for offenses within the state, Worsdale hopes to expand their research nationwide.

"We're gonna expand our background investigations further than just the State of Texas for our firefighters," Worsdale said.

Potter's bond was set at $4,000.  He was released from jail two days after his arrest, and is now on administrative leave.

Potter will face the fire department's board members Wednesday night.  They'll decide if the chief will have to resign or if he can be reinstated.

 

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