Watt Carroll Jr. had been rejected by another police department for twice failing its entrance exam when he was hired by Dallas police. Seventeen months earlier, the Dallas Morning News reports, Carroll had been accused of beating his 17-year-old stepson. The teenager and his mother later asked prosecutors to drop the charge. After his hiring in Dallas, Carroll was charged in Louisiana with assaulting his ex-wife’s husband; prosecutors declined to press charges. The Dallas police internal affairs division found that Carroll intimidated witnesses testifying against his stepson, who was on trial for robbery.
That case was not isolated, found an analysis of recent police hires by The Dallas Morning News. Some had brushes with the law, were rejected by other police departments or have been given second or third chances to graduate from the police academy.
The News examined personnel and internal affairs files of 29 officers recruited in recent years. The names were supplied by colleagues, many of whom said they were dismayed by the department’s diminished hiring standards and the questionable character of some rookie officers. The News obtained the files through the state’s Public Information Act. They reveal:
• Although Deputy Chief Cindy Villarreal told a City Council committee meeting that Dallas goes “above and beyond what other agencies do” in its screening process, the department frequently hires applicants who have been disqualified by other law enforcement agencies or previously rejected by Dallas police.
• Some recruits have been repeatedly fired from jobs, have amassed extensive driving violations, have been denied credit or have been investigated for crimes including domestic abuse.
• Unlike other major Texas law enforcement agencies, Dallas for at least six years recycled many questionable recruits into subsequent classes until they passed basic skills tests and obtained state certification.
• Once many of these recruits hit the streets, they became troublesome police officers.