Wednesday, April 17, 2013

TCLEOSE officials seek protection after enforcement actions generate threats

Until the ascension of current executive director Kim Vickers about a year-and-a-half ago, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) rarely if ever engaged in enforcement actions against local agencies that violated standards in the Occupations Code, focusing instead on provision of training and technical assistance to police administrators. Vickers told Grits yesterday that, once they started enforcing the rules - even seeking indictments in some instances when criminal conduct was discovered, as evidenced by this Grits post published Sunday - he and his commissioners began receiving personal threats. As a result, on the advice of a 47-page threat assessment prepared by a fellow who previously coordinated dignitary protection in Afghanistan, TCLEOSE now has a protection detail for Vickers and TCLEOSE commissioners to go with them when they make public appearances in official capacities. (Grits has requested a copy of the assessment under the Public Information Act.)

Isn't that remarkable? These aren't gang members or drug cartels threatening TCLEOSE officials but disgruntled current and former police officers! Vickers said officers sometimes get extremely angry and emotional when their livelihood and personal identity are threatened, even when it's because of their own misbehavior. These folks, he said, are armed and generally proficient and more comfortable with weapons than the general public, so the agency takes threats to personal safety quite seriously.

After five felony indictments were brought against a training coordinator in Alpine last year (still pending) and the Buckholts police chief was was arrested, Vickers said his office was "inundated with calls" alleging misconduct at other agencies. Many complainants had not reported the incidents earlier because they thought the agency wouldn't do anything. Partly because TCLEOSE in the past seldom pursued such cases and partly because of 2011 budget cuts, the volume has overwhelmed them. There are only two investigators available to look into these allegations, both of whom presently have 50-75 cases on their plate, he said. Vickers indicated there would likely be more, similar cases reported in the press before the year is out.

For now, with the volume so high and the agency understaffed (they lost 27% of their staff to 2011 budget cutting), TCLEOSE cannot proactively pursue such cases, Vickers said. They can only react, investigating the small mountain of cases brought to them. He said additional staff included in the House and Senate budgets would help but not solve the problem. He told the Senate he'd need ten more investigators - on top of the current two - to effectively manage the volume. But of the new TCLEOSE staff envisioned in the House and Senate versions of next biennium's budget, he said, only one is an investigative slot.

Vickers contacted me to offer clarification regarding media reports of recent TCLEOSE enforcement actions, reacting to questions by Grits commenters and clarifying the law surrounding a Starr County case where a Sheriff's deputy was licensed with a deferred felony on his record. He distinguished between administrative violations alleged in Bell County and allegedly criminal acts committed by the Freestone County Sheriff and others. In the case out of Starr County, he said the McAllen Monitor incorrectly reported that a deputy's felony deferred adjudication would bar him from service - the Legislature didn't change the law to disallow that until 2001 and the deputy's 1999 licensure would have been grandfathered. See the final addendum to Sunday's post for more details.


Anonymous said...

Imagine what would happen if an agency or official began to agressively investigate all police misconduct. This training records stuff is tame compared with much of what goes on.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate Vickers contacting Grits and Grits reporting their position. It clarifies some points. As for the armed guards, one has to ask when those who justified a security detail because of the Kaufman County homicides will drop them (thereby saving thousands in taxpayer funds) now that they claim they have solved the case. Just wondering.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To be clear, 10:00, the TCLEOSE security details are only for public events attended in official capacities, not 24/7.

rodsmith said...


"Isn't that remarkable? These aren't gang members or drug cartels threatening TCLEOSE officials but disgruntled current and former police officers! Vickers said officers sometimes get extremely angry and emotional when their livelihood and personal identity are threatened, even when it's because of their own misbehavior."

Can we all now say it together


Some of us have been saying the cops have long gotten too big for thier bitches for DECADES!

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Having law enforcement protect you from law enforcement on as needed basis all sounds like a joke to the tune of fiddles. To add insult, putting only 2 investigators on the job is a red flag pointing to a cover up from the top. Texas has an abundance of real certified investigators in need of employment and the money to fund it. If they wish to fall on this sorry excuse then we need file for bankruptcy, disban the TCLEOSE, call in the G-Men and not Barney's Fifes' cousins.

To obtain an as needed security detail based on a 47 page assessment has one wondering how much he invoiced for it & just how gullible these fools are. If you are afraid of the disgruntled to the point of needing your hand held during the work day, you should watch more TV.

Prediction. This will lead to a run on security blankets and live-in details due to the tide turning where they eat their own while blaming it on anything with a heart beat & criminal record.

LOL naked and rolling in it.

Anonymous said...

When the Kaufman DA was murdered the media wondered, Is it the Aryan Brotherhood? Is it a drug cartel? It was a local lawnorder judge. Now we have cops threatening the people who license them.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Anonymous said...

All politicians want to be surrounded by armed guards. It makes them (seem) significant. What office is Vicker's seeking? Why would he publicize this given that his agency can commission officers? Sounds like he has future plans

Gritsforbreakfast said...

3:58, the issue came up while we were talking about the agency's ramped up enforcement. He didn't proactively "publicize" it, it came out in response to my questions and I latched onto it b/c I thought it was newsworthy. They've been doing this for some time and he hasn't publicized it at all, he just didn't conceal it under questioning.

Vickers was an Abilene cop for 27 years and my sense is he has no aspirations for public office and this may be his last stop before retirement. I give him credit for actively enforcing the law when his predecessors did not.

And to 2:36, fwiw the threat assessment was done for for free by somebody who works at the AG who had extensive dignitary protection background from their military service. It wasn't some outside consultant.