Constable's office supervisors fired after 'deceitful' handling of training records

Lieutenant claimed to have trained 22 hours in a single day

By Dillon Collier - Investigative Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Two supervisors with the Bexar County Precinct 2 Constable's Office were terminated earlier this year after a state investigation determined they falsified the training records of themselves and other members of the agency.

Lieutenants Chris De La Cerda and Leonicio Moreno were terminated in early March, according to county records provided to the KSAT 12 Defenders following an open records request.

Both men also received permanent reprimands from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, whose investigators determined that the deputies used "deceitful means" to complete training courses outside state approval.

Moreno also surrendered his law enforcement instructor's certificate, according to records.

TCOLE investigators were notified of the issues in January by Precinct 2 Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela.

Barrientes Vela, who declined a request for an on-camera interview for this story, told investigators that Moreno had entered as many as 20 training courses for himself without submitting documentation, according to state records.

The submissions may have been done to help Moreno qualify for a master peace officer's certification and to get a pay increase, according to Barrientes Vela's original complaint.

State records show Moreno was awarded the certification last November.

Barrientes Vela also found De La Cerda had claimed credit for training courses that were not approved.

Both deputies were placed on administrative leave in late January, as Precinct 2 and TCOLE carried out separate investigations.

Both probes focused on courses taken online as well as a drug incinerator scenario outside Precinct 2's offices last August.

Barrientes Vela told investigators the course was canceled.

However, a four-hour training course on that day later appeared on the TCOLE records of De La Cerda, Moreno and other members of the agency.

One deputy given credit for the course told a state investigator earlier this year that he was surprised he got credit for the course since it "was not a training course" and participants were not tested.

De La Cerda, when pressed by a state investigator, agreed with the investigator's assessment that the training consisted of "merely someone destroying evidence and ya'll watching."

"With the microscope that's on law enforcement these days, that's the last thing we need to do," said Tammy Burr, regional law enforcement manager for the Alamo Area Council of Governments.

Burr, a former deputy chief with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office, agreed to speak about the incident in general terms.

"The biggest problem is that you violated public trust, because you are saying that you are proficient or you attended this training or you got this training, when in reality you haven't," said Burr, who added that legitimate training courses will include testing and practical phases.

The state's investigation also found both deputies claimed training hours after watching unapproved videos through LinkedIn and Lynda.com.

During a single day last September, De La Cerda logged 11 training hours, according to state records.

De La Cerda spent nine years with Precinct 2 prior to his termination.

He did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Moreno, a 17-year veteran of Precinct 2, logged 22 training hours during a single day last October, state records confirm.

Moreno had previously been demoted from chief deputy to lieutenant for an unrelated incident, according to county records.

He did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

A woman at his home familiar with the case who asked not to be identified said they had still not decided whether to give Moreno's side of what happened in a more formal setting.

A hearing for both deputies related to the state's findings is scheduled for later this week, according to a source familiar with the case.

TCOLE struck a number of training hours from the records of both deputies, according to county paperwork.

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