BELL COUNTY (February 13, 2013) --- The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education has revoked the Bell County Sheriff's Department’s training license for two years, which means the department can’t provide any new or additional training for deputies or other members of the department.
TCLEOSE Executive Director Kim Vickers said the revocation stems from an investigation launched after TCLEOSE received an anonymous tip about training practices.
The investigation revealed former Bell County Sheriff's Department Training Coordinator Lt. Danny Kneese gave several deputies training materials and tests with answer keys to take home and complete.
Vickers said the deputies were given the same amount of credit they would have received had they actually attended the training classes.
"That in no way is appropriate and in no way is accurate (and) actually it's not even training and that was a pretty widespread practice," Vickers said.
Vickers said Kneese voluntarily relinquished his peace officer license.
The investigation revealed the practice may date back as much as almost two years.
Vickers said former Bell County Sheriff Dan Smith was not aware of it.
"If Sheriff Smith was guilty of anything it was of trusting his staff to do the right thing and not following up to ensure that it was being done correctly," Vickers said.
Because of the revocation, the sheriff’s department will have to work with other law enforcement agencies such as the Temple Police Department in order to keep training current.
Sheriff Eddy Lange said he and his staff are looking at options for training and said he hopes it can be accomplished without additional cost.
Lange also said he was told by TCLEOSE that there may be some people in the department who could lose training hours in the wake of the investigation.
Vickers said TCLEOSE will continue to monitor the department’s training practices.
"It is very disconcerting to me and to the commission to have the rules bypassed like this," Vickers said.