Arlington

16 Arlington cops give up police licenses to avoid criminal charges

Arlington police officers are accused of reporting traffic stops that never happened.
Arlington police officers are accused of reporting traffic stops that never happened. jlmarshall@star-telegram.com

Five Arlington police officers indicted on charges of falsely reporting traffic stops had their cases dismissed this week in exchange for permanently surrendering their state peace officer licenses, according to court records.

Eleven other officers involved in the investigation had previously agreed to surrender their licenses so that their cases would not go before a grand jury, said Sam Jordan, spokeswoman for the Tarrant County district attorney’s office.

“They will never be able to be peace officers in Texas again,” Jordan said of the 16 officers, who made up about 3 percent of the city’s 600 officers.

Lt. Chris Cook, police spokesman, said the department was notified Tuesday that the cases had been dismissed and that none of the officers are still employed by the department.

The indicted officers, who had their cases dismissed Monday and Tuesday, were Dace Warren, 46, Brandon Christopher Jones, 33, Christopher Michael McCright, 47, Christopher John Dockery, 32 and Dane Alan Peterson, 33.

Dockery faced 14 counts of tampering with a government record with intent to defraud his sergeant, a state jail felony.

The other four officers faced multiple counts of tampering with government records, each Class A misdemeanors.

The indictments alleged that the officers falsely reported traffic stops from February to May of last year.

Fort Worth attorney Randy Moore, who represented Warren and Peterson, said he was surprised by the number of counts returned in the indictments. Warren faced 15 counts, while Peterson faced 10. Jones and McCright each faced five counts.

“With that many counts, even though they were misdemeanors, it was too much of a risk for the officers to go fight it in criminal court,” Moore said. “I wanted to see my guys fight it out, but I understand the risk.”

The other 11 officers involved in the investigation were: Marlon Avant, Brittany Blackman, Jonathon Copeland, Ryan Crimmings, Lacie Curry, Paul Durand, Jason Flake, Ryan Garman, John Thomas, Blake Van Hooser and Ryan Weldon.

A routine audit last 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 at the time.

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 resigned during the investigation and nine were fired in December. Four others remained under investigation. It was not immediately clear Wednesday whether those officers were fired before they surrendered their peace officer licenses.

All 16 were accused of lying about traffic stop reports, tampering with governmental records and conduct unbecoming a police officer, the press release said.

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

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

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 dashcam 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. That data is used to compile the department’s annual racial-profiling report.

Moore, the attorney for Warren and Peterson, has said his clients maintained that they were pressured to make stops and write citations because of an alleged department traffict ticket quota.

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

Moore on Wednesday said he still believes some officers involved in the investigation were pressured to make stops.

“I don’t think two wrongs make a right,” Moore said. “But if we’re going to indict police officers, then we need to indict the chain of command for what they allowed to happen. If there is a problem, there needs to be accountability up the chain of command.”

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