Arlington

Arlington fires 9 police officers accused of lying about traffic stop totals

Nine Arlington police officers have been fired over a traffic stop investigation.
Nine Arlington police officers have been fired over a traffic stop investigation. Star-Telegram archives.

Nine Arlington police officers have been fired, accused of lying about the number of traffic stops they made, the department announced late Friday.

A routine audit earlier this year revealed that the officers, all assigned to the patrol division, had reported making traffic stops that were never conducted, police spokesman Christopher Cook said.

Fifteen officers were placed on paid leave in May — with one more accused officer later joining them — as the department began an internal investigation.

Three officers decided to resign during the investigation, according to a police press release Friday. Four others are still under investigation.

The officers who were fired have a right to appeal the department’s decision.

They are accused of lying about traffic stop reports, tampering with governmental records, and conduct unbecoming a police officer, the press release said.

Their cases have been forwarded to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office, which will determine if criminal charges will be filed.

Two of the fired officers are also accused of not being truthful in their testimony with internal affairs investigators.

Police Chief Will Johnson declined to comment Friday night.

“These allegations are serious and represent conduct that is not consistent with departmental expectations,” Johnson said in a statement at the time.

Mayor Jeff Williams and several City Council members did not return requests late Friday for comment on the case. Councilwoman Sheri Capehart said she couldn’t comment because it’s “a personnel matter.”

On Saturday, Williams said in a text to the Star-Telegram, “I am supportive of Chief Johnson and am confident our police department will continue to maintain a high degree of excellence.”

The accused officers reported on their in-car computers that they had made a traffic stop at a particular address but did not give any names, a source close to the investigation had said.

The allegedly falsified stops were discovered when supervisors could not find accompanying dash cam video of the stops.

Officers are required to report driver demographics, the reason for the traffic stop, whether an arrest occurred and whether a search was conducted during the stop, said Cook, the police spokesman. That data is used to compile the department’s annual racial-profiling report.

Attorney responds

Fort Worth attorney Randy Moore, who represents two of the fired officers, said Friday that the investigation was flawed because there was a “complete rejection of trying to get alternate explanations” as to why certain officers’ traffic stop totals were higher.

Moore also said his clients maintain that they were pressured to make stops and write citations because of an alleged department traffic ticket quota.

Arlington police officials have denied that the department has a quota system, which would be illegal under state law.

Moore said his clients plan to appeal their firings through an arbitration hearing.

“It’s on,” he said. “It was a completely biased investigation by internal affairs.”

Attorneys for other officers could not be reached Friday night.

All nine of the fired officers are members of the Arlington Municipal Patrolman’s Association. AMPA president Chris CeBallos declined to comment on their firings until after the appeal process.

Staff writer Robert Cadwallader contributed to this report.

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