It all started with a letter. Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston sent one to city officials in April, accusing Dallas Police Chief David Brown of allowing a recruit who continually failed his Police Vehicle Operations Course test to retake it until he passed. Brown put Internal Affairs on the case. "We take these allegations very seriously and will not tolerate the lowering or downgrading of our training standards," he said at the time.
Enter Gene Hagen. Hagen is a manager at the auto pound -- a position he was transferred to recently, he claims, because he failed to change his answers under pressure from Internal Affairs detectives.
Before he was transferred to the auto pound, Hagen put in more than 34 years of service to the city, including 17 as an officer and nine as a manager at the police academy. "Due to his diligence and teaching, the first time pass rate for Dallas police recruits increased from approximately 70% to 98%," according to a press release from Hagen's lawyers.
Then came April 23. Hagen said an internal affairs detective escorted him into an interview room where he was presented with a list of three questions:
1) "Have you ever tested a recruit until they passed?" 2) "Have you ever observed any other instructor test a recruit until they passed?" 3) "Have you ever been directed or directed anyone to test a recruit until they passed?"
Yes. Yes. Yes.
The detective then left the room, and an IAD sergeant took his place. In a grievance to the city released by his lawyers, Hagen claims that the sergeant attempted to "intimidate and bully" him into changing his answers.
Hagen asked if he'd write his statement by hand or if he'd do it on the computer. The computer, said the sergeant. When Hagen made his way to the computer in the room, he saw that "his" answers had already been typed in.
No. No. No.
Hagen told the sergeant the answers should all be "yes" and attempted to explain why. The sergeant, according to Hagen, said no explanation was necessary, only a "yes" or "no" response. Hagen tried to change the answers but the sergeant stopped him.
There was some wrangling over what the first question was. The sergeant told Hagen it should have been, "Is there a practice at the Dallas Police Academy of passing recruits until they pass?" Hagen said no. The sergeant then said the answer to number one should be "no."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Then Hagen tried to write his statement. "Several times [the sergeant] copied my statement onto a thumb drive and left the room with it to confer with someone, only to return and ask me to reword what I had just written, again telling me that it was my statement and he wasn't going to tell me what to write."
The sergeant also made him add, "Before this incident, I have never tested a recruit until they passed." Hagen said he allowed that to be part of his statement because it was true. "I personally observed that Recruit Taylor was tested beyond what any other recruit had received in the past," Hagen wrote in the grievance.
After his interview with Internal Affairs, Hagen said he talked to others who were bullied by the department. He was transferred soon after, as "retaliation" for not going along with IA, he claims.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Hagen plans to retire soon. He wanted to put in six more good years of service, to match his dad's 40.