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BCSO terminates five employees, proposes dismissal of two others

Sheriff Javier Salazar says many of the deputies who have been arrested and subsequently terminated have shown "patterns of behavior" that caused concern.

SAN ANTONIO — "If you are caught dishonoring this badge, I will make it a point to hunt you down and cut you off like a cancer."

It's a stern warning (and promise) that Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar issued months ago and reiterated during a press conference this morning. 

Sheriff Salazar spent the morning addressing recent arrests and disciplinary actions within the jail. 

Following the recent arrest of Corporal Ryan Ferrell for DWI, Sheriff Salazar revealed that he had terminated five employees and issued a 'notice of proposal of dismissal' for two others.

Salazar identified the seven employees during the press conference and acknowledged that many had shown "patterns of behavior", which led to their termination. 

TERMINATIONS:

While Corporal Ryan Ferrell's recent arrest may have initiated the process of "cleaning house" at the jail, his was not the first incident of, as Salazar phrased it, a law enforcement officer showing "a pattern of behavior" that caused concern.

#1 During the conference, it was revealed that Former Deputy Adrian Parra was terminated from the agency for multiple reasons, including, 'conduct unbecoming of an officer', 'use of alcohol', and 'availability on duty.' Sheriff Salazar stated, "In short-- [he] was caught drunk while on duty."

#2 Vanessa Flores, a former dispatcher with the Sheriff's Office, was also recently terminated. According to Salazar, Flores was arrested for DWI several months prior and was terminated for "a pattern of concerning behavior"; several of those cases "were with regard to alcohol."

#3 Former Deputy Joseph Martinez's reason for termination was also due to "a pattern of behavior." Some of the reasons listed that led to Martinez's termination, as listed by Salazar, included, conduct unbecoming of an officer", "violations of law", 'immoral conduct', and 'treatment of persons in custody'.

Sheriff Salazar stated that Martinez was involved in "two very high-profile parties involving members of our CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) team from 2017." While those cases were in process, Martinez is "also accused of assaulting two inmates on two separate occasions within the Bexar County Jail." 

In response to those accusations, Salazar said "That's intolerable. That's not what we're here for."

Additionally, Martinez was arrested for DWI in September 2018. 

#4 Former Sergeant Hugh Anderson was also terminated for 'conduct unbecoming of an officer'. As Salazar explained during the conference, his termination "stems from an off-duty incident that occurred in August of 2018, of an alleged assault at an HEB."

This incident is still pending criminal prosecution.

#5 Former Deputy Lloyd H. Mickens was another employee who was terminated. Salazar shared that allegations surfaced over the weekend that Mickens was involved in an off-duty disturbance. The probationary deputy reportedly became somewhat uncooperative with internal affairs who are investigating the disturbance. "I'm not tolerating it. We terminated him, effective immediately."

PROPOSALS OF DISMISSAL:

#1 In addition to the DWI arrest, Corporal Ryan Ferrell was also involved in the same incidents as Joseph Martinez, in regards to the parties of 2017. Following this recent arrest, the Sherriff's Office initiated termination proceedings. Ferrell received a notice of proposed dismissal earlier this week. Salazar stated that he's "made clear my intent to separate him from this agency, however, we have to respect the process."

#2 In a similar fashion, Deputy Michael Fernandez also received a notice of proposed dismissal. This week, Fernandez was found guilty of "convicted of tampering with a governmental document." According to Sheriff Salazar, the conviction stemmed from an incident where Fernandez was accused of assaulting an inmate in 2016 and accused of tampering with a report in connection with that case. 

It was reiterated during the press conference that with every incident, there is a criminal investigation and administrative investigation by internal affairs that are concurrent, but separate. 

All aforementioned employees do have paths of recourse to try and protest their terminations, except for Mickens who was a probationary deputy. 

Salazar stated that regardless the case, “I always make my stance completely clear: this conduct will not be tolerated, and it’s going to be dealt with severely and swiftly, as much as I can, respecting the [administrative and criminal] process.”

In an effort to change the culture at the Bexar County Sheriff's Office, Salazar explained that "you have to change people's way of thinking." And he's taking steps to make sure that happens.

In the last year, the Sheriff's Office doubled the amount of in-service training offered to deputies. This year, they've brought in Alcoholics Anonymous to teach a block of instruction on how to deal with alcoholism. 

Some of the employees arrested for DWI, had been arrested for DWI once or twice before. 

“Am I saying that all of my deputies are alcoholics? Clearly not, but I think an argument can certainly be made that as an agency, we’ve got some alcohol issues, so I’m taking the steps to address that.”

Additionally, the agency is in the process of talking to a rehab facility called Warrior’s Heart, that does work with victims of PTSD and alcoholism, not only for first responders but also for members of the military.

While Salazar acknowledged that in any law enforcement agency there's going to be people running "afoul of the law", how the agency deals with it is what separates them from the pack. 

"You don't sweep it under the rug. You confront it head-on. You deal with it openly and honestly with the media and with the public, and then you create a plan moving forward to prevent it from happening in the first place."

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