Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar says he is aware of problems with alcohol in his department, and he is taking steps to deal with the challenge, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Salazar commented following this morning's arrest of Deputy Heriberto Rivera, 25. He was pulled over by SAPD near Highway 151 and Military near Sea World early today after a police officer saw him drive his personal vehicle up onto a curb. Salazar says Rivera, who was off duty but had his service weapon in the car, was charged with DWI, and was also charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, which is a state jail felony.
Rivera, who has been on the force as a law enforcement patrol officer for five years, is on desk duty, and Salazar says it is possible he will be fired. That is up to civil service regulations.
Salazar acknowledged the arrest not only of Rivera, but of several other deputies in 2018, many of them on DWI charges.
"The number that we have had arrested in any given year indicates that as an agency, we have issues with alcohol, and certainly I'm not afraid to confront that," he said.
Salazar said several steps are being taken."We do have Alcoholics Anonymous teaching a course at our in-service," he said. "MADD has actually come to roll-calls, and they have done presentations, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, in an effort to curb this sort of behavior."
Salazar says hiring standards have been tightened, which isn't easy in a time when it is increasingly difficult to recruit qualified law enforcement officers, and the BCSO has hired its first ever full time psychologist, who will join the department January 1. She will work with troubled deputies, as well as deputies who have been involved in officer involved shootings and similar incidents.
But Salazar stressed that the arrests which have made his department the butt of memes in 2018, is not the norm, and Bexar County residents need to understand that
."The actions of this one individual are not indicative of the vast majority of deputies in this agency," he said, pointing to medals for valor on the wall. He said the deputies, many of whom have been wounded in the line of duty, who have received these decorations are mare like what is the mainstream in the Bexar County Sheriff's Office.
Salazar also stressed that his increased vigilance in cracking down on errant deputies in his department is also partly behind the rash of deputy misconduct allegations this year.