DALLAS – The county fired four marshals and let two others resign after an outside investigation revealed misconduct in one of Dallas’ newest and smallest police departments.
Among other things, Dallas County marshals were accused of working off-duty jobs while getting paid by the county.
"If people are not reporting to their job and reporting to some other job, that's clearly a lack of leadership up the chain,” said Judge Clay Jenkins, D-Dallas County.
Commissioners authorized the county marshal service in 2015 to protect courthouses and 60 other county buildings. But private contract security officers operate the checkpoints and metal detectors.
The marshal service has a number of security guards, but six of its 12 peace officers lost their jobs, Jenkins said after the outside corruption investigation.
The firings happened last Monday, but the county has been slow to reveal any of it. Officials said they worry the terminations will end up in court.
WFAA has requested a copy of the outside investigative report, which Dallas County paid $25,000 to Theron L. Bowman, Inc. Consultants, to complete this summer.
The 271-page document is being redacted by the county right now but is said to detail misconduct by the six marshals.
“We have filed appeals on all terminations, we have not received a response from the County, and, the litigation option is on the table. I do not think it is legal, professional or appropriate in any way, for the County to release the recent investigation results to the media. Accordingly, I am looking into all options available at this point due to the already irreparable damage Dallas County has done to my client,” said Randall Moore, defense attorney for the marshals.
Assistant Chief Leo Armendariz was one of those fired, said Moore, who represents him. But two previous internal investigations into the same allegations cleared Armendariz, Moore told WFAA.
Armendariz was accused of leaving Dallas County to assist the Richardson Police Department with the execution of a felony warrant in April, which is outside the normal scope of duties for a marshal. Armendariz was criticized for not notifying his chief about it until after it happened.
But an internal affairs investigation conducted by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department in June “exonerated” Armendariz saying “the officers’ actions were within policy.”
The sheriff’s department also investigated three other complaints:
*Whether a sergeant with the marshal’s service ordered an officer to falsify a report. It was considered “unfounded.”
*Employees alleged to have been working an off-duty job while getting paid by the county. That, too, was “unfounded,” according to the sheriff’s department.
*Finally, a sergeant was accused of not properly documenting hours worked by an officer. The internal investigation “sustained” that allegation, but the report said “Internal Affairs does not believe probable cause exists that a criminal offense occurred.”
“The Dallas County Marshals Service did not begin to have problems until a struggle for control of the Department began,” said Moore.
The marshals have a strange structure. Technically, they are a service of the county fire marshal, Robert De Los Santos. He holds the state law enforcement commissions for the peace officers within the marshal’s department, but De Los Santos does not lead them.
Moore said complaints by three disgruntled employees sparked the most recent problems for his clients.
Judge Jenkins told WFAA that the county should consider eliminating the marshal’s service.
“I think so. I think by far the safest way to handle security is to have the sheriff's office handle security. There's no need for the county offices to have their own security force,” he told WFAA.