Sheriff Said to Be Dishing Out Political Payback

     (CN) — The Fort Bend County Sheriff cut two of his own deputies out of the county’s dispatch and records systems because they campaigned against his re-election, the aggrieved lawmen claim in court.
     Bruce Denney and Frank Cempa Jr., both deputies in the county’s third precinct, claim Sheriff Troy Nehls unilaterally locked them out of important law enforcement software because they both campaigned for Nehl’s opponent in the 2016 Republican primary: Frank Cempa Sr., Cempa Jr.’s father.
     “The notice that these two deputy constables cannot access the RMS and CAD systems places each of these law enforcement officers in a manifest safety hazard,” the complaint states.
     Denney and Cempa Jr. say they organized their campaign for Cempa Sr. through a Facebook page while they were off duty.
     According to Cempa Sr.’s campaign Web site, he started working in law enforcement in New York City in 1973, and worked for Fort Bend County until his retirement in 2015.
     Cempa Sr. lost the primary, receiving only 22 percent of the vote. In a run-off election held in May, Denney and Cempa Jr.’s supervisor, Constable Rob Cook, lost his re-election bid by a margin of 47 votes. The deputies, in their petition, argue that Cook lost because Nehls, knowing the deputies had campaigned against him, publicly endorsed Cook’s opponent even though Cook was the 28-year incumbent.
     The day after the March 1 primary, the complaint says, Nehls revoked the deputies’ access to the county’s records management systems and dispatch systems, the complaint states. Without access, the deputies cannot find other officers in the field through the computer in their cruisers, determine the nature of emergency calls or submit offense reports online.
     The sheriff also allegedly barred deputies from accessing the county courthouse and the county jail, but reluctantly reinstated their access so they could attend court and book prisoners, the complaint says.
     “Sheriff Troy Nehls has violated his public trust to the tax-paying citizens of Fort Bend County because of his vindictive, political retaliation,” the complaint says.
     The deputies seek a declaration that the sheriff usurped their duties and violated the sphere of authority of their supervising constable.
     They are represented by Robert Thomas with the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas.

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