SAN ANTONIO – A longtime captain with the Bexar County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office retired this year, days after a state audit uncovered a long list of issues with agency personnel files.
Captain Arthur Burford submitted his letter of retirement Jan. 25, three days after new Precinct 4 Constable Kathryn Brown demoted him to the rank of deputy and forced him to hand over a majority of his county-issued property, records show.
Brown said she was made aware of possible issues with Precinct 4 personnel files, including an allegation that deputies no longer with the agency were still on its duty roster, while campaigning for the position last year.
“And so the minute I got here, that was one of my missions to find out what was going on and how it should be rectified and who was responsible for it,” said Constable Brown, who took office Jan. 1 after being elected to the position in November.
Burford, as training coordinator for Precinct 4, was responsible for maintaining and updating the agency’s training records and personnel files.
A Texas Commission on Law Enforcement audit completed weeks after Brown took office found that a vast majority of personnel files inspected, 12 out of 13, were not in compliance.
Missing documentation included annual firearms qualifications and criminal history checks, records show.
The audit also determined that some files found to be out compliance during a 2018 audit were still out compliance, despite Burford having previously submitted a signed affidavit claiming the issues were corrected.
“Someone who has more than 20 years experience and someone who had had that capability and that responsibility and training to back it up should have been very made aware of what they were doing,” said Brown.
She also said the poor record keeping created a potential liability issue, since training and personnel records are the first items examined after a deputy is involved in any sort of incident.
Brown said she also had difficulty accessing some search programs because Burford was the only staff member with security privileges.
Burford had worked for Precinct 4 since 1991, first as a reserve deputy for a year and then as a full time peace officer the past 29 years, state records confirm.
“Whether you were a defendant, a plaintiff, a person who had a disagreement or a complaint to take, I treated you with respect,” said Burford, after being reached for comment at his home.
He described Brown’s response to the audit as “extreme” and said a better course of action would have been to allow him to work with TCOLE on correcting the issues.
“They’re not looking to burn anybody. They want to help you,” said Burford, referring to TCOLE officials.
As part of his Jan. 22 demotion, Burford was required to return county-issued keys, access cards, all office documents, his county vehicle and to clear out of his assigned office.
“I saw the writing on the wall, and I didn’t like what I saw,” said Burford.
Brown, however, pushed back on the suggestion that Burford would no longer be able to properly work as a rank and file deputy, pointing out that he was allowed to keep his county-issued firearm, radio and other equipment.
Burford was issued an honorable discharge, making it easier for him to be hired on by another law enforcement agency.
When asked why she would demote a member of administration but then issue him an honorable discharge, Brown said she felt the letter of reprimand and demotion was a suitable punishment that would also prevent Burford “from creating further damage.”
She said that the records discrepancies were corrected quickly enough to keep Precinct 4 from being formally reprimanded by TCOLE officials.