Fort Worth police chief of staff arrested on DWI charge

Posted Sunday, Dec. 02, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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Chief Halstead's statement

Early in the morning of December 1st, Major Paul Henderson was off duty and arrested for DWI in Parker County by the Department of Public Safety.

As soon as I was notified, I began to address this matter with respect to the administrative processes and procedures that are required from my position and expected within our department. Major Henderson was contacted by our Internal Affairs Division and placed on “restricted status.” This matter is being investigated both criminally and administratively so my comments are limited.

Our Department has been very attentive in addressing these types of matters in the last 3-plus years and we will continue to provide training and support for all employees. Major Henderson was assigned as my Chief of Staff; I will make immediate changes in his responsibilities to protect the integrity of this process and ensure all projects can continue as planned ensuring our department remains efficient to our citizens. I fully expect our employees, my supervisors, and most importantly our citizens to hold me accountable as I address this misconduct with fairness and professionalism.

Major Henderson has apologized for this incident and his actions. I appreciate your understanding and your generous concern.

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FORT WORTH — During a rash of incidents involving Fort Worth police officers and alcohol, chief of staff Paul Henderson summed up the department’s frustrations when he declared: "We are absolutely fed up with dealing with this off-duty behavior."

That was in April 2010. Eight months later, despite mandatory alcohol awareness training for all police employees, two officers were arrested in a five-day period on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. A year later, another officer faced DWI and gun charges.

Early Saturday, Henderson himself was arrested on suspicion of DWI when a Department of Public Safety trooper saw him make an unsafe lane change near the Interstate 30/20 split in Parker County, a DPS spokesman said.

Henderson, who lives in Parker County and was off duty at the time, has been put on “restricted status” during criminal and administrative investigations into the incident, police Chief Jeff Halstead said in a statement.

“I will make immediate changes in his responsibilities to protect the integrity of this process and ensure all projects can continue as planned, ensuring our department remains efficient to our citizens,” said Halstead, who promoted Henderson from lieutenant to major in June 2011.

Henderson was pulled over about 1:46 a.m. just east of Aledo, DPS trooper Lonny Haschel said.

“As a result of the traffic stop, Henderson was transported and booked into the Parker County Jail on suspicion of DWI,” Haschel said.

Henderson was released about six hours later on $1,000 bond, Parker County authorities said Sunday.

Since 2008, more than a dozen Fort Worth officers have been disciplined for driving while intoxicated or being drunk on or off duty.

The worst incident occurred in 2009, when off-duty officer Jesus Cisneros rammed his city-owned SUV into a car driven by a young mother, Sonia Baker, killing her. Cisneros pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter and is serving a 20-year sentence.

In April 2010, barely four months after the Cisneros crash, another off-duty officer was accused of driving drunk when he plowed his pickup into a home.

“We have put message after message out to our employees expressing the seriousness of our off-duty behavior and how it reflects on the department as a whole, as well as them individually,” Henderson said at the time. “... We are absolutely fed up with dealing with this off-duty behavior.”

In the wake of the fatal wreck, Halstead began the mandatory alcohol awareness training. The chief also implemented a “disciplinary matrix” designed to deal with various levels of infraction.

Under the rules, officers arrested for DWI could face anywhere from a 15-day suspension to termination.

Henderson has apologized for the incident, Halstead said.

Halstead said he "fully expected" to be held accountable “as I address this misconduct with fairness and professionalism.”

The chief said his statement would be his only comment, citing the ongoing investigation. Neither he nor Henderson responded to phone messages left Saturday night

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said she learned of the arrest from Halstead on Saturday afternoon.

“The chief, I’m sure, will take appropriate actions on it,” Price said. “That’s about all I can say. It’s unfortunate for it to happen to anyone.”

Susan McFarland, 817-390-7547

Twitter: @susanmcfarland1

Staff writer Scott Nishimura contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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