Union: Fear drove Arlington officers to create fake traffic stops

The labor union representing most of the 15 Arlington police officers placed on leave for allegedly filing fake traffic stops is offering its perspective on the ordeal.

The Arlington Municipal Patrolman's Association suggests the misconduct may have occurred because those officers feared that without it, they would not get approval to work outside jobs, such as security detail at events at AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park.

The association posted information on its website that attempts to back up the claim, including internal emails, officer evaluations and a complaint the union filed with the Arlington Police
Department’s internal affairs in 2009.

After looking through the documents, peace officer and attorney Pete Schulte said they are insightful, but do little to justify the alleged fraud.

"I think it's good that they are highlighting what the issues are,” Schulte said. “But it doesn't justify what took place and the officers knew better."

The 2009 complaint said a police chief and lieutenant created a perception that officers felt compelled to keep their “self-initiated activity and citations high for fear of losing their part time jobs."

A series of emails in the complaint includes a West patrol district sergeant informing officers that he was “not going to tell [them] to write tickets, or how many for that matter. I will say that when the shift performs at, let's say eight per person per week, you should be right there."

Also posted in the complaint were individual emails to patrol officers of that same district. One   directed to one officer read, “The average is 12. You- 6.”  

Another said, “Average 12, you 9,” with a note saying, “I’m aware you’re training…FYI.”

One other individual email read, “Average 12. You: 16,” with a note, “Thank you!"

One officer’s approved off-duty employment request with the Texas Rangers included the handwritten remarks, "this authorization is subject to being rescinded if the officer’s work performance regarding traffic enforcement and self-initiated activity do not improve."

The Tarrant County District Attorney is currently reviewing the case of the 15 officers allegedly reporting fake traffic stops. The DA will decide if it will file any criminal charges.

Schulte believes the department has difficult decisions to make.

“If somebody's defrauding with the purpose to harm, in this essence to keep their off-duty jobs, that could be criminal,” Schulte said. “I'm not saying that that's in this case, but that's where this was headed. With the officers doing that, the Arlington Police Chief is going to have to make a tough call. They're going to have to say, ‘Do we fire all 15 of these officers?’ Or do they say, ‘We know what led you to this and we are going to make changes.’ It's a tough spot."