By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Manny Vasquez, a former DPD commander who now is in charge of security in the Dallas Public Schools, has never been able to get a meeting with Bolton, he says, even to discuss what he considers important school safety matters. In a two-page letter Vasquez wrote the chief in November 2000, a copy of which was obtained by the Dallas Observer, he detailed his unsuccessful attempts over a period of months to meet with Bolton to discuss issues such as juvenile crime and "most importantly the safety of school children as evidenced by tragic events all over the nation."
The district pays nearly $1 million to the city for officers in the schools and houses them in district office space. But Bolton has refused to share what the letter described as "detailed information relating to sexual offenses occurring on or near school district campuses" and barred school district police from using the city's pistol range.
"My purpose," Vasquez wrote, "was to establish an intelligence information flow to security personnel on our campuses to be on the look-out for sexual predators lurking near our school facilities and children...I can only pray a school child is not injured or abused by a suspect loitering near a school and previously identified by the DPD."
Vasquez, who declined to comment on the matter, later attempted to get the sex offender information from the department under the state open records law and again was refused. In the past, he wrote, DPD had a reputation "of leadership and cooperation" with smaller departments. Not anymore.
Former FBI man Danny Defenbaugh, who opened a private security business in Addison last year, said he does not care to recap the various run-ins he had with Bolton, because they are all in the public realm. "It's all out there...and he's still there," Defenbaugh quipped.
The two that have had the most lasting effects are the Caligula XXI strip-club affair, which emerged early in Bolton's second year, and his mass demotions of Click's top assistants, including everyone who was named as a contender for the chief's job.
In early 2001, after a jury in Amarillo found former Dallas city Councilman Al Lipscomb guilty of federal bribery charges, it came to light in court papers that a certain high-ranking black police official had ordered enforcement pared back at Caligula XXI, a strip club in the Bachman Lake area. The club's owners had paid Lipscomb $7,700 in cash for the favor, and he in turn went to the police official to get the job done.
In short order, Bolton's former secretary and a lieutenant came forward and said the unnamed official was Bolton, who at the time was in charge of the patrol division in that area. They provided records showing that was what they told the FBI when Defenbaugh's agents were investigating Lipscomb in 1998. At a council committee hearing in early 2001, Bolton fingered former Executive Assistant Chief Robert Jackson as the one who issued the orders, detailing how he, Jackson and Click were talking together when Jackson said it. Jackson and Click say that is untrue.
With four people contradicting the chief, several council members pressed for him to release records of his interviews with the FBI to clear the air. Bolton declined.
Former Councilwoman Donna Blumer, who, along with Miller, was the only council member who pressed to go beyond Bolton's version of events, says Bolton did his best to bury the truth in a storm of irrelevant details. "That's his strong suit," she says. "He just talks circles around the question and never says anything. He starts running his mouth off so long, he probably believes his own lies."
The affair gained Bolton a new cast of doubters, but he outlasted the issue at City Hall, where Benavides decided to let it drop.
Bolton's shock changes in the department's command staff left a deeper, more lasting mark.
"The major concern I hear most about the chief is his command positions. There are people there who just don't have a clue. They just don't," says Glenn White, a senior corporal and president of the department's largest union, the Dallas Police Association. "You look around some of the patrol stations and some of the different bureaus and wonder...they just don't get it."
On taking the job, Bolton pushed aside a roster of seasoned, high-ranking officers, including Doug Kowalski, a special events and tactical leader, and Jackson and Vasquez, both top candidates, to take over as chief. (The commanders later sued, and the city settled the cases for $5.6 million. Jackson and Taylor declined to settle, and their case is pending in a federal appeals court.)
In their place Bolton promoted far less experienced officers, several of whom were triple-promoted from the rank of sergeant, including one of Bolton's close friends, Deputy Chief Kyle Royster, who had twice failed the lieutenant's test.
Bolton's people have had mixed success in gaining the respect of the rank-and-file. "It's hard to work for people who you saw as having no ability at a lower rank achieve even midlevel rank, let alone putting stars on their collar," says one veteran sergeant.