Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Profile of a Gypsy Cop, Part Two

You've gotta love open records laws.

Grits offered a "Profile of a Gypsy Cop," Guadalupe County Sheriff's Deputy Keith Majors, based on information obtained under the Texas Public Information Act.

Turns out, based on other documents released to ACLU of Texas earlier this year,
Grits barely scratched the surface. More details about Deputy Majors come out in a seven page memo from Department of Public Safety Deputy Commander Patrick O'Burke, who oversees all Texas' drug task forces, to Ken Nicholas of the Governor's office, dated February 20, 2003.

The memo, described here publicly for the first time, was created "only at the specific request of Mr. [Mike] Toomey, [now departed] Chief of Staff" to Governor Rick Perry. Its purpose was to argue that "Keith Majors is not an appropriate selection for assignment to a narcotics enforcement position," because of incidents that "place Major's ability and integrity into question." "This documentation should be kept confidential and used for funding decisions only," O'Burke wrote. Well, now that's out the window!

described yesterday how, ten years ago, Majors admitted destroying evidence in an investigation into stolen cocaine and drug use by the South Texas drug task force commander. Majors destroyed an audiotape in which his commander admitted using cocaine.

In the February 20, 2003 memo, O'Burke reiterated that story, with a few additional details. He and a Texas Ranger investigated the South Texas task force ten years ago. They "documented a pattern of numerous task force Agents using imprest funds for alcohol consumption in local bars with little or no investigative efforts resulitng from these expenditures." Agent Majors was one of those who "utilized imprest funds in an inappropriate manner."

The memo also fills in missing details in Major's career from yesterday's post, and reveals that he ran into problems then, too. "In January, 1994, during the above investigation," reported O'Burke, "Agent Majors abruptly resigned from the Kingsville (South Texas) Task Force and went to work for the 81st Judicial District Task Force." There, Majors was promoted to supervisor, and later task force commander, but the same types of ethical problems continued to surface.

While commander in 1996, the memo documents, Majors had gone hunting and killed a deer, but had another hunting trip planned near Laredo the same season. "Commander Majors took the deer to the task force office and using his position as Commander coerced secretary Jody Lomax into utilizing Lomax's hunting license to tag the deer killed by Commander Majors. ... Majors lied during the first interview with Warden [Arthur] McCall," the memo said, but the warden pursued it and Majors later admitted what he'd done. "Warden McCall further expressed concern and a lack of confidence in Majors due to the integrity issues that surfaced during the investigation."

Majors resigned, but was soon hired again by the 24th/25th Judicial District Task Force based in Seguin.
Grits recounted yesterday how Majors impeded an investigation by DPS into missing evidence and sloppy record keeping. But the memo reveals additional problems.

O'Burke charged that Majors exhibited poor judgment in task force hiring. Over the stated objections of several officers, says the memo, Majors hired a former agent from the 81st Jucidical District Task Force named Clyde Earl Kincaid who had resigned because a severe alcohol problem. Task force officers "stated that Majors was advised that Kincaid should not be hired back into a narcotics unit ... [or] allowed to work in an undercover capacity due to Kincaid's problem with alcohol abuse. About a year later, Kincaid was leaving a bar where he was working undercover, crashed his task force vehicle, and died, the memo reports.

Majors' love life appears as contentious as his work life, perhaps because the two have been occasionally closely intertwined. In 1998, "Majors was involved in a romantic relationship with ... [a woman who was] task force secretary and Majors' subordinate." According to the memo, "Majors was attempting to break off the romantic relationship" at a bar in San Marcos. "However, the meeting escalated into a physical confrontation. [She] was able to obtain Majors' issued handgun and a round was discharged when [she] and Majors fought for control of the handgun."

Then, "Majors left the scene prior to police arrival and then returned. Majors reportedly left the scene to call his supervisor and the San Marcos Police Department on his cell phone. However, the police report documents that they actually found that Majors was calling" the woman, who had not left the scene. "Majors leaving the scene was inappropriate and suspicious," the memo notes, "since no plausible explanation was given" as to why he did so.

After that, the memo reports, the task force hired a new secretary "without significant input from Keith Majors. Majors resented [her] and they had a poor working relationshiop. [She] was employed for two and one half years, ending in 2001. [She] was later dismissed and filed a grievance. [The secretary] provided substantial documentation to the Seguin City Manager of [her] claims in the grievance. [She] alleged she was poorly treated by Majors, that drug evidence was inappropriately handled and not stored properly, and that Majors created imprest documents to cover up a loss of imprest funds in September 1998."

post described the end of Majors' role as commander of that task force -- DPS took over its management earlier this year after an inspector recommended that the task force should be abolished if Majors could not be removed from his position. He went back to the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office, where he still works today.

In summary, the memo lists three overarching deficiences that O'Burke said should disqualify Keith Majors from narcotics enforcement:

  • Keith Majors has consistently demonstrated a deficiency in practicing, implementing or requiring adherence to standardized police procedures and investigative techniques.
  • Keith Majors has consistently demonstrated a deficiency as a supervisor. Majors failed to maintain a professional demeanor and relationship with subordinates. Majors also failed to maintain an appropriate level of supervisory control over subordinates and investigations.
  • Keith Majors has consistently demonstrated a lack of integrity and failure to conduct himself in an appropriate, professional manner as a police officer.
Yup. Throw in his failure to report crimes committed by co-workers, and that about sums it up.

Finally, the memo let the Governor's office know Majors' wasn't an isolated case: "The Department of Public Safety Narcotics Service is charged with the oversight of drug task forces partially due to the lack of standardized policies and procedures and the failures of some task forces to follow proper investigative techniques across the State. This charge has been further complicated by individual task force officers who have demonstrated a lack of integrity or character as police officers in their capacity in narcotics enforcement."

That's the DPS Deputy Commander, who is in charge of all Texas' Byrne grant funded drug task forces, diagnosing essentially identical problems as ACLU criticized in Tulia, Hearne, Floresville, and elsewhere. Drug task forces face more problems than any individual, but Keith Majors' story provides insights into how the system could get this bad.


Anonymous said...

He is a dirty cop and a lousy person he does not know how to do anything right. I cant believe that fedex hired him after all he did as my boss. shows how much they care about there employees.

Anonymous said...

For the record, Agent Kincaid did not have a problem with alcohol. At the time of the accident, Majors was allowing Agent Kincaid and others to work 19 hours + a day. Agent Kincaid was not intoxicated when he died.

Anonymous II

Anonymous said...

My daddy once told me "When you point your finger at someone, theres always three pointing back!"
Would trust him with my back any day of the week!!!

Dallas, Tx