Racism: "That's Wrong."

On Tuesday, the No. 2 man at the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, Executive Chief Deputy Jesse Flores, met with various employee groups to address rumors that he made some inflammatory comments about white officers at the department. A few weeks ago, I had heard that Flores said he wanted to replace "white faces with brown faces" and that he wished to turn the department into the Alamo, only without the bloodshed. I didn't know what to make of these allegations and figured they may just be the byproduct of a department in turmoil rather than an accurate reflection of one man's sentiments. Still, anonymous posters made similar claims on the local law-enforcement message board Undergroundcop.com, which added a smidgin of credibility to the rumors. Yesterday, perhaps thinking that the talk of his alleged bigotry had reached a fever pitch, Flores wanted to set the record straight.

His story is a rather confusing one, but here it is: A few months ago, he was speaking in Spanish to a Hispanic employee about his ancestors. Flores was regaling her with a tale of how his distant relatives fought for Texas against Mexican troops at the Alamo and that "both brown faces and white faces" lost their lives. Another Spanish-speaking employee heard that story, Flores says, and took it out of context, interpreting it perhaps as a modern-day battle cry rather than a morality tale about multicultural appreciation. As a result, some people at the department think Flores wants to replace "white faces with brown faces" and re-live the Alamo. Like I said, rather confusing.

In any case, Flores tells Unfair Park that he would never make any staffing decision based on race under any circumstances. "I have never in my entire life discriminated against anybody because of their color, religion or ethnicity," he says. "That's wrong." Still, with a Hispanic sheriff, executive chief deputy and now spokesman (Raul Reyna), the public faces of the sheriff's department have certainly changed over the last 18 months, fueling the kind of gossip about what Flores may or may not have said.

"I heard the same rumor, and I don't know what to think anymore," says Ben Roberts, the president of the Dallas Sheriff's Fraternal Order of Police. "Our community is changing, and it's obvious that the Hispanic influence is coming into the department." Roberts added that his union has a good deal of faith in Flores. He did not tell Unfair Park to remember the Alamo. --Matt Pulle

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