SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar confirmed Monday that he has ordered a full audit of current employees to make sure all background checks are accurate.
The command happened after a civilian employee was arrested for a shooting Saturday at a North Side strip mall.
Andrew Ramos, 24, was arrested over the weekend and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly shooting a relative outside the strip mall.
Ramos was identified Sunday as a civilian employee with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
While reviewing Ramos’ file, investigators found he was arrested for a robbery in 2014. Court records showed that in 2015 the case was dismissed for insufficient evidence.
Salazar said the previous administration hired him as a clothing clerk at the Bexar County Jail in 2016.
“I am and a lot of our deputies are sick and tired of getting embarrassed by people that should have never been allowed to set foot in this building, and yesterday’s arrest was a perfect example,” Salazar said.
He said under current, stricter hiring standards, Ramos would never have been hired.
“In October of 2018, I made our requirements a lot more stringent,” Salazar said.
The criteria is that the applicant cannot have prior arrest records for: driving while intoxicated, driving while impaired, possession or trafficking of illegal narcotics or drugs, assault, stalking, family violence, theft, crimes of moral turpitude or sexual offenses. All applicants must not have had any prior discipline, which involves a violation of the uniform code of military justice (non-judicial punishment).
The main change is that previously, the background check only covered convictions. Now, it covers all arrests, both misdemeanors and felonies.
“You might be a really great person who had one minor indiscretion and you were arrested and that case was dismissed. I just can’t continue to take that chance, for obvious reasons,” Salazar said. “Out of 2,900 applicants this year, we’ve only hired 114.”
The stricter guidelines were a response to continuous arrests within the department.
This year alone, 18 BCSO deputies have been arrested for incidents that happened during their employment. Two civilian employees were also arrested.
The arrests are down from last year when 26 deputies and three civilian employees were arrested.
“I won’t be doing a touchdown dance anytime soon. I want that number down to zero,” Salazar said.
Another change is being made right now.
All deputies get new background checks every year, but in the past that didn't apply to civilian employees.
Salazar said going forward, every employee will get the annual background check.
“That civilian employee probably does not have access to a lot of sensitive information, but I’m not going to continue to take that chance. It’s just as embarrassing when somebody like that gets arrested as it is a deputy. This agency we have to be above board,” Salazar said.