Longtime Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant is under investigation by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) for allegedly cheating on his continuing education training.
A call to TCOLE last week seeking information about the case was not returned until Tuesday when Sgt. Stan Roper confirmed that an investigation is underway.
“What I can tell you is, yes, we do have an investigation going on in regards to the sheriff’s office. I can’t tell you a whole lot about the case because it’s still active,” Roper said.
Roper said the investigation began in June and was turned over to him in October.
He said most of his cases involve training and licensing fraud.
Roper said he has interviewed “several people” in connection with this case, including Bryant.
“I have spoken with Sheriff Bryant and he knows there’s an investigation,” Roper said.
But Bryant disputes that claim, saying early Tuesday morning that he is unaware of any investigation and has not been interviewed by TCOLE.
“I don’t know of any investigation against me and I don’t know why there would be one,” Bryant said. “I have done nothing wrong.”
But a county official speaking on the agreement that their name would not be used in this report, said Bryant is under investigation for allegedly having a former deputy complete his annual training.
“I know there is an investigation because I was interviewed,” the county official said.
The official went on to say the investigation began when former sheriff’s deputy Cameron Ray applied for a job with the Stephenville Police Department, and on the application disclosed that he had completed Bryant’s training while he worked at the sheriff’s office.
Ray was contacted by the E-T Tuesday for comment, but said he did not want to make a statement at this time.
According to documents obtained by the E-T, Bryant was reprimanded by TCOLE in March for failing to complete the legislatively-required continuing education. He was one of 190 law enforcement personnel across the state reprimanded for the offense.
The continuing education is a 40-hour training course required by the state to ensure that law enforcement officials are informed on any recent changes to laws.
Bryant said he had no idea he had not completed the training until after he returned home from a conference with the Sheriff’s Association of Texas in San Antonio this summer.
“It is a training conference, and after I got back I was notified by TCOLE that I was three or four hours short on my training,” Bryant said. “The next thing I knew Cameron (Ray) had taken a course for me to get me caught up, and I thanked him.”
Bryant said he was later contacted by Police Chief Jason King who told him the department could not hire Ray because of his admission that he had taken the course for Bryant.
“When I found out it cost Cameron the job, I decided to self-report and notify TCOLE about what had happened,” Bryant said. “And that’s all I know.”
Bryant became the Erath County sheriff in 1997.
Clell Murray and Tish Lecroy both ran against Bryant in this year’s March 1 Republican Party primary.
He was re-elected after receiving about 70 percent of the votes.
Roper said he hopes to wrap up the investigation in another month, then turn over his findings to an attorney for review.