Something weird and unsettling happened last year at the Dallas County Sheriff's Training Academy. Of 27 recruits that enrolled, a mere seven -- barely 25 percent -- passed on their first try. Weird because the wave of failures was unprecedented. The previous year, all 16 would-be deputies passed. Unsettling because as NBC 5 first reported on Friday, it put the academy in danger of being shut down by the state.
No wonder then that Dallas County Commissioners would demand answers when they met on Tuesday. Dutiful public servant that she is, Valdez gave them an answer: the recruits may have flunked their exam on purpose.
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"We can't say that it was done on purpose, we can't say that it wasn't," Valdez said.
It seems rather absurd that 17 otherwise competent potential employees would go through weeks of training only to purposely torpedo their shot at the job they'd applied for, but Valdez has an explanation for that, too. From The Dallas Morning News' recap of Tuesday's meeting:
That year, cadets learned midway through the program that there were no openings for deputies. The candidates may not have seen any point in passing, she said, or they may have been angry and failed the test on purpose.
Given the academy's typically solid pass rate, that's at least plausible, more so anyways than the alternate possibilities that Dallas County brought in a remarkably incompetent set of recruits or that the quality of training suddenly but temporarily took a nosedive.
Still, it doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in the department when one learns that those 17 recruits were ultimately hired on as deputies after passing a retest. Because if there's one person who knows how tough it can be to pass law enforcement certification exams on the first try, it's Valdez.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.