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Monday, September 27, 2010

[TX] "We probably have over 100 felons working as peace officers in the state of Texas"

Sucky leadershhip in Dallas County Sheriff's Dept. makes even good cops look bad.

That's a shame.

In the extensive articles on offending deputies, domestic violence didn't even appear on the radar.

.
..The News first raised questions about the quality of background checks for deputies in an investigation earlier this year that focused on Howard Watson, a Cortes senior deputy accused of, but never prosecuted on charges of, sexually abusing a former foster child ...

Tim Braaten, executive director of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education:

"We probably have over 100 felons working as peace officers in the state of Texas"


3 DOZEN DALLAS COUNTY DEPUTY CONSTABLES HIRED DESPITE TROUBLING JOB HISTORIES
The Dallas Morning News
By Ed Timms and Kevin Krause
Sunday, September 19, 2010
[Excerpts] ...A Dallas Morning News investigation discovered that some constables attract peace officers with troubled histories like magnets. At least three dozen deputy constables in Dallas County were terminated from previous law enforcement jobs, resigned while under investigation or were disciplined for serious infractions. Others fit the profile of "gypsy cops" who repeatedly bounced from one job to the next in a downward career spiral. The two precincts that are the focus of a criminal investigation by a special prosecutor into allegations of wrongdoing – the Precinct 5 constable's office under Jaime Cortes and Precinct 1 Constable Derek Evans' office – had the most by far, each more than the remaining three precincts combined. At least 13 of the 38 deputy constables employed by Precinct 5 in early 2010 had experienced serious problems in previous law enforcement jobs, as did 14 of the 55 licensed peace officers in Precinct 1... Some of those deputies have found themselves in trouble again... "The best predictor of an officer's future conduct is their past conduct. Some of it is startlingly telltale," said Eugene O'Donnell, professor of law and police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Hiring someone with a troubled past, he said, "raises questions about the leadership."... The News first raised questions about the quality of background checks for deputies in an investigation earlier this year that focused on Howard Watson, a Cortes senior deputy accused of, but never prosecuted on charges of, sexually abusing a former foster child while she was still a minor and fathering her children, as well as criminal charges, in California... [Full article here]

WITH LEGAL LOOPHOLES, TROUBLED PASTS OFTEN NOT FACTOR IN HIRING OF DALLAS COUNTY DEPUTY CONSTABLES
The Dallas Morning News
By Ed Timms and Kevin Krause
September 20, 2010
[Excerpts] Legal loopholes, weak regulations and abuses have allowed Dallas County constables to employ deputies with troubled pasts, a Dallas Morning News investigation has found. In some cases, constables failed to conduct thorough background checks – or even basic checks. Deputies made statements or omissions on their job applications that were, at a minimum, misleading. State laws that require law enforcement agencies to obtain some background information do not ensure that a thorough review is done... Also, some government agencies – in an attempt to avoid liability – enter into settlement agreements that help problem officers hide their past. And because some officer standards were passed only recently, a deputy fired repeatedly for misconduct or with criminal records can still carry a badge. That's despite repeated efforts by lawmakers and the state agency that licenses peace officers to improve standards and the quality of background checks. One example is the 2005 "gypsy cop" law, which sought to weed out problem officers who bounce from one job to the next... How much scrutiny job candidates get still varies widely from one law enforcement agency to the next... [Kaufman County Sheriff David] Byrnes, the Kaufman County sheriff who is an outspoken critic of gypsy cops, said nothing prevents him from hiring a problem officer. But if he does, "I've bought the liability"... In February, Dallas County commissioners asked their human resources department to tighten hiring procedures for deputy constables after The News reported on the troubled history of Howard Watson, a former Cortes deputy who faces several felony charges... For some peace officers with a past, time may be on their side. State law allows governments to destroy the personnel files of former employees five years after they leave. In dozens of cases examined by The News, law enforcement agencies that had previously employed deputy constables no longer had their personnel records. And in some cases, government officials enter into settlement agreements, promising not to reveal all the details of a former employee's departure. A problem officer who is allowed to resign quietly and leave with a clean personnel record is less likely to sue for wrongful termination, some officials and their attorneys rationalize... An applicant's out-of-state work history may not always be known. Texas participates in a national decertification database that identifies individuals who have lost their peace officer certification in 28 states, [Tim Braaten, executive director of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education] said, "and we're trying to get the other 22 to participate... We probably have over 100 felons working as peace officers in the state of Texas"... [Full article here] accountability

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