DALLAS -- A Dallas police manager is alleging that an internal affairs supervisor attempted to bully and manipulate his answers in an investigation of the department’s training academy.
Gene Hagen filed the grievance last month. He alleges that he was transferred to the auto pound after he refused to bow to pressure. He is retiring this month after 34 years in the department, including 17 years as an officer.
“Gene Hagen’s grievance raises some serious questions about the propriety of the DPD internal investigation of Dallas Police Academy training programs,” his attorney, Bob Gorsky, said in a statement. “Bullying and manipulating officers and civilians into providing manufactured statements that fit with what the command staff may be looking for falls far short of the integrity expected from an internal investigation.”
Hagen had been called to internal affairs to give a statement in an investigation of the department’s pursuit vehicle operations training program. The department is investigating allegations that a recruit’s score was “reduced improperly” and “intentionally altered,” so he failed.
The recruit was the same one that DPA officials had alleged the department was "attempting to circumvent" its own rules by letting the recruit keep taking the test until he passed.
Police Chief David Brown, in a video recently posted on the department’s blog, said that the department has concluded that did not occur.
“There wasn’t any sense from anyone that standards had been downgraded with the exception of one of the civilian managers at the academy,” Brown said.
That was a clear reference to Hagen. The chief further stated that he thought that the DPA’s concerns had originated with the civilian manager.
In his grievance, Hagen said he was called down to internal affairs in late April. He said he was asked the following questions: Have you ever tested a recruit until they passed? Have you ever observed any other instructor test a recruit until they passed? Have you ever been directed or directed anyone to test a recruit until they passed?
Hagen said he told the detective that his answer to all three questions was “Yes.” He said a sergeant then took over the interview.
“I told the sergeant what the answers to the questions were and he attempted to intimidate and bully me into answering the questions differently,” Hagen wrote.
When he began to type his statement, he said he noticed that the same three questions had been pre-typed onto the computer monitor. All three questions had already been answered “No.”
Hagen said he heard from others that they were also pressured to give similar statements.
He said the sergeant continued to pressure him when he changed the answers to “Yes.” Hagen was the only one who ultimately answered “Yes” in his internal affairs statement to those questions.
Hagen told internal affairs investigators that he saw the recruit fail the cumulative skills test four times. The policy had been that any recruit who failed after four tries is terminated.
He said that he had never seen anyone given a fifth attempt as was the case with that recruit. He also wrote that the recruit was given numerous practice runs before the fifth test – something that academy policy forbade.
Hagen was suddenly transferred to the auto pound days after giving his statement to internal affairs.
According to records obtained by News 8, Police Officer Thomas Clayton administered and graded the controversial second test that has been the subject of the internal investigation. Clayton explained that what caused the recruit to fail was that he made the same crucial mistake twice.
Clayton consulted with Senior Cpl. Manny Sanchez on whether the recruit should be docked 20 points for taking two wrong chutes or 50 points for taking a wrong course path. Sanchez was the department's vehicle operations course coordinator and lead master instructor. Sanchez said only 20 points.
The recruit still could have passed, but Clayton told investigators that he had made other mistakes that caused him to fail.
Gorsky has said that Sanchez did not know who the recruit was.
Officials from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement conducted an audit in April. Auditors from the commission examined academy records, and as a result, alleged that the recruit's score was lowered improperly.
At that time, Sanchez was put on administrative leave over allegations that the recruit's’ score was “intentionally altered” so that he failed. Clayton was not placed on leave.
Sanchez supervised the fifth test that the recruit passed.
The department suspended its police vehicle operations course in early May. The department is currently reviewing its procedures. Department officials said recently that the recruit was placed in a temporary position until the new program is in place.
The recruit will then have to complete the new driver program. It’s not clear why that’s the case given that police officials have said that he passed the fifth test.