SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County’s sheriff delivered a tough but deliberate message to his newest class of cadets, 17 men and women who hope to don the uniform of a detention officer in the near future.
The 14 men and three women showed up for their first day at the training academy, ready to learn, Monday morning.
Immediately, they found out just what a heavy burden the badge carries.
“We want you to have a good time within this agency. We want you to achieve all your dreams in this agency. However, we want you to do it by a certain set of rules,” said Sheriff Javier Salazar, addressing the class.
Salazar repeatedly drove home the message that his agency has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to breaking the rules.
It’s a message that he says is more important now than ever before.
“Yes, we can get in trouble. Yes, we can get suspended. Yes, we can be terminated from employment,” he said.
As 20 of his deputies have found out so far this year, they also can be arrested.
The arrests were for everything from drunken driving to domestic violence. At least one was for sexual assault.
“Just don't do it,” Salazar said. “It's that simple. Just don't do it.”
Salazar said in the wake of all the arrests, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office has begun taking a more proactive approach to preventing these problems.
Recently, the agency adopted an even tougher screening process for candidates.
“We've hired more background investigators whose number one goal is to find something on an applicant that's going to make them unsuitable for our purposes,” Salazar said. “It may seem counterproductive, but I would rather have a fewer number of the right kind of folks sitting in these seats than just open the floodgates.”
In spite of the past problems, Salazar said he remains hopeful for the future.
He believes the message he delivered to the cadets was well-received and clearly understood.
Editor's Note: This story previously story stated 19 deputies have been arrested. Changes have been made to show there have been 20 deputies arrested so far this year.