An investigation aired last week by KSAT 12 News into Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz has attracted the attention of the Bexar County District Attorney and, subsequently, the Texas Rangers.
District Attorney Susan Reed said Tuesday she has referred an investigation into alleged abuses of power by the sheriff to the Rangers, and that they have agreed to look into it.
The investigation is contingent on the District Attorney agreeing to prosecute if the Rangers find anything.
The investigation centers on the Bexar County Sheriff's Reserve Association, a group of men and women who work part-time for the Sheriff. They don't get paid and, in exchange, get to keep their state law enforcement commissions active.
A KSAT investigation revealed that the reserve deputies were being used to provide security at Ortiz election night parties and campaign fundraisers.
Initially, the sheriff defended using the reserve deputies. Ortiz said they volunteered to work the events on their own time.
"They do so out of the kindness of their hearts," said Ortiz last week.
Reed said that doesn't matter. She cited state law that prohibits reserve deputies from working as private security officers. That law requires officers work a full-time job in law enforcement, or at least 32 hours a week with benefits, in order to work private security in their uniforms.
The reserve deputies are part-time and don't get benefits, working only 16 hours per week.
"You can't volunteer for something that you're not legally allowed to do," Reed said.
The reserve deputies are also organized as a 501(c)3, non-profit group, which adds another issue to their staffing of campaign events.
"501(c)3's can't participate in political activity and consequently couldn't do it," said Reed.
The Republican district attorney referred the investigation to the Texas Rangers around midday Tuesday.
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, a democrat and Ortiz supporter, said he believes politics had a lot to do with news about reserve deputies emerging.
"But all of these kinds of allegations are deserving of some inquiry," said Adkisson.
The Rangers will not begin their investigation until after the election is over, to avoid the impression they are not a neutral law enforcement organization.
Sheriff Ortiz declined to comment for this story.
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