The Untouchable

Complaints of racism, dirty politics, and other fishy business simply roll off Denton County's Teflon sheriff, Weldon Lucas

Bernadette Lambert, one of the last women patrol deputies, says Lucas did not want females on the road either. Lambert, who is out of the sheriff's department and law enforcement, said after one woman had surgery, she said Lucas told her, "'These damn women and their female problems. If I didn't have to hire another one, I wouldn't.'"

Lambert say Lucas "ran blacks off" one way or another.

"The blacks, it was pretty evident he didn't want them from the day he walked in the door," she says.

One former employee complains that as Denton County's sheriff, Weldon Lucas, top, and with jailer Tesa Walker, bottom, has presided over two major jail expansions, which should provide more opportunities for blacks to find jobs in the Anglo-dominated department.
Peter Calvin
One former employee complains that as Denton County's sheriff, Weldon Lucas, top, and with jailer Tesa Walker, bottom, has presided over two major jail expansions, which should provide more opportunities for blacks to find jobs in the Anglo-dominated department.

A black jailer who had a police baton "shoved up her butt" while she was exercising with fellow officers in 1996, complained about the incident but then quit the department after her supervisors tried to convince her to change her story.

"It was just horrible. That's when I knew this wasn't a place for me to be working," she says. "One of the black guys threw a kiss at one of the white females that worked there and he was terminated, and he was terminated really quick, but this guy was not terminated, he continued to work there, the guy that did that to me...It's terrible. It's a terrible atmosphere to work in."

Says Clark: "They turned on her like rabid dogs. They were just kind of like that old, well, 'if you hadn't been dressed in such a short skirt, you wouldn't have been raped.' They tried to make it her fault. They'd stare her down when they were in briefing and walk past her in the halls and eyeball her and lean over and whisper. It would just be intimidation."

The woman, now a Lewisville police officer like Clark, asked not to have her name used because she fears what Lucas might do to her.

"I don't know how much power Weldon has. I really don't. From what I hear and from what I've seen, he has a lot of power...I love my job now, and I love the place I work. I don't want anything to happen."

Lucas says he tries his best to attract minorities and women to the front-line jobs but has had little luck because his jobs don't pay enough compared with other law enforcement agencies in the area. (Lucas, apparently, is not alone in his problems finding qualified minority deputies. Collin County, which has about the same sized population as Denton County, employs four black women and one black man in a 150-member department, a human resources director there says.)

In his defense, Lucas points to the number of high-ranking black men working in the jail.

"There's captains in the jail; there's lieutenants in the jail...To my knowledge, I have not had a black applicant for our patrol. Why would you apply for our patrol when you can make $5,000 or $6,000 more in Flower Mound? You'd be a fool.

"I promote out of the jail. To my knowledge, we have not had an applicant that is a certified police officer apply out of the jail in three or four years. I look for minorities of all types. Asians, anything. We solicit them, but we can't get them. We're trying our best."

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Before finishing his third and what he says will be his last term as sheriff, Lucas must first endure the worst storm of his life, his divorce from his high school sweetheart and wife of 40 years, Sandra Lucas, who is in the final stages of a difficult struggle with Lou Gehrig's disease. Sandra Lucas, who requires 24-hour care, supposedly filed to divorce him after he threatened to divorce her, a family member says. The divorce is filed in Denton County but is sealed. (Although Texas judges can seal divorce files for any reason, it is not a common practice in Denton County, a court clerk there says.)

Sitting in his leather chair, Lucas gets so emotional when he mentions his wife that he cannot speak. His eyes fill with tears. They were supposed to retire together to a spread of land in South Texas that has been in the Lucas family since the 1800s, he says.

"That's where my wife and I were going," he says. "She won't make it that long, but that was our plan when we purchased that land and planned our retirement. She was the same age as I was. That was the plan."

When Lucas becomes this sympathetic figure, all of the bad tales about him suddenly seem an invention.

Of course, not all of the rumors concerning Weldon Lucas are bad. If George W. Bush were to become president, rumor has Lucas' being appointed one of 94 U.S. marshals in the spring, serving in the Eastern District of Texas. Lucas says that if he were to finish his work in Denton County and if the prestigious job were offered, he just might take it.

As for Trooper Smith, six years later, he is a corporal and just as convinced that Weldon Lucas was drunk that night while driving on a road north of Pottsboro. He is also angry about how the tables were turned and his being forced to move so far from family ties in North Texas. He has filed a lawsuit against the state; the hearing is scheduled in Austin in March.

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