Earlier this year the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) forced the Bell County Sheriff’s Office to discontinue its training programs for two years following the discovery that a former lieutenant was fudging training hours and improperly administering classes.
Kim Vickers, director of the regulatory agency wrote a scathing investigation report critical of County Sheriff Eddy Lange and Chief Deputy Chuck Cox, the commission found several employees who had wracked up hundreds of hours of falsified training.
Fast forward, Sheriff Sees A Positive
Three months since a state regulatory commission revoked training privileges from the Sheriff Lange is now seeing a possible positive consequence. The suspension has prevented the sheriff’s office from conducting any continued education for deputies as well as jail academy training for newly hired guards at the Bell County Jail. Despite that, Lange said he could see a scenario in which not having a jail academy would save the county money.
Central Texas College is exploring the possibility of restarting a police academy that could include a jailer academy. Officials are conducting an assessment to see if there is enough demand to restart an academy the college shuttered in 2011 because of falling revenue. Lange said if the college conducts a jailer academy, he would hire people who earned a jailer’s license on their own time and money. Working together with the college and other local agencies provides a strong working and trust relationship for the future.
Others Agencies Helping Out
And many neighboring agencies volunteered to assist the sheriff’s office with continued training for deputies. Lange said officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety as well as area police departments have provided continued education for deputies.
The revocation of the sheriff’s office’s jailer academy has not prevented the agency from hiring new jailers. Guards are allowed one year to complete a 96-hour training course, much of which is available online, said Kim Vickers, director of the regulatory agency.
Hiring deputies has not been hindered either. All new deputies went to police academies conducted by the Killeen and Temple police departments.
All Deputies Continue to Meet Their On-going Training Requirements
All sheriff’s deputies have met training requirements for the current two-year cycle, which ends in September. By the time the next training cycle concludes, the department’s training privileges will be restored, barring any further infractions.
Many Needed Courses Found Online
Sheriff Lange and Vickers said many courses are available online. Texas A&M University provides several courses online through its Texas Engineering Extension Service, for example. Sheriff Lange said he has taken several courses online after requesting his record be scrubbed of all fraudulent coursework. One course administered illegally remains on his record, and Lange said he will not take the peace officer’s test until he retakes it in earnest.
“We’re trying to go above and beyond what’s been required of us, more than complying with what they told us,” said Sheriff Lange.