Polygraph “Testing” Ordered for Cameron County, Texas Jail Staff

Jennifer Muir and Emma Perez-Treviño report for the Brownsville, Texas Herald in an article titled, “Sheriff holds off on staff changes.” Excerpt:

Administrative debates temporarily staved off Sheriff Conrado Cantu’s plan to restructure a troubled county jail staff Monday, but Cameron County’s top lawman said his department will continue considering options this week as his staff undergoes polygraph examinations.

“We are still debating,” Cantu said in a telephone interview Monday.

“Administration got together this morning and we have several options we are going to look for. We have not yet gotten to an agreement. I can’t comment any further.”

Cantu told The Herald Friday that he would hold a news conference Monday to discuss a possible re-staffing of county jail operations, after drugs again were found inside the Carrizales-Rucker Detention Center in Olmito — the latest incident in a string at the maximum-security facility, including investigations into sexual activity between guards and inmates, missing inmate funds and a jailer arrested in October on drug charges.

County Judge Gilberto Hinojosa could not be reached Monday to discuss Cantu’s proposed changes but is expected to discuss a possible drug screening policy for jail staff at today’s Commissioners Court meeting.

The District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department are conducting parallel investigations into the sexual allegations that include polygraph exams for jail employees.

Former Mercedes Police Chief Jose H. Flores III is conducting the tests for the sheriff. Flores currently is employed by Cameron County as a deputy constable in Precinct 7 and is a licensed polygraph examiner.

“I’ve been conducting the polygraph examinations for free, at no cost to the county because I am a county employee trying to help them out,” he said, noting that he conducts the examinations after the regular workday.

The attorney representing a former sheriff’s lieutenant who claims she was fired for blowing the whistle on the alleged activity objects to Flores’ involvement. “It is well known that he is a crony of the sheriff,” Richard Nuñez said Monday, the same day he filed a wrongful termination suit against the sheriff and Cameron County on behalf of ex-Lt. Hilda Treviño.