It hasn't been a good month for the sheriff. Just a week after being taken to task by the Dallas County Commissioners Court over her department's skyrocketing overtime costs, now comes the startling news that Sheriff Lupe Valdez flunked a state licensing test required of all law enforcement officers. Valdez, who took the test at the end of April, has two more chances to pass the test by the end of the year; if she fails both examinations she could be removed from office.
"Now I have an idea of what to expect and will challenge the test again in the first or second week of June, in which time I expect to pass the test," Valdez said though her spokesperson, Don Peritz, when Unfair Park asked for comment this morning.
Valdez scored a 66 on the test--four points away from a passing score. Still, for the top law enforcement officer in the county to muff a test even deputy constables routinely pass certainly is an embarrassment for Valdez. Both media-shy and thin-skinned, the sheriff will almost certainly recoil at the renewed attention paid to whether she's up to the job. Although Valdez ran for office on a platform touting her extensive career in federal law enforcement, the sheriff had scant experience in local law enforcement, which some say has contributed to her problems thus far in office.
To be licensed as a peace officer with the state of Texas, you have to go through an accredited police academy and pass a state test. Elected officials such as the sheriff merely have to pass the test within two years of taking office.
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The test Valdez flunked covers a range of topics, from asset forfeiture to civil process to the use of force. There are also questions on Spanish proficiency, which presumably should have given Valdez a bit of a head start. Laura LeBlanc with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement says that more than 50 percent of candidates pass the test on the first try. So, Sheriff, if at first you don't succeed... --Matt Pulle