There are still no clear answers as to what transpired last year that led to an investigation of the Erath County Sheriff’s Office by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement and the termination of four officials at the department.
But on Monday, Sheriff Matt Coates told commissioners that the Texas attorney general’s office has now assigned an investigator to look into potential wrongdoings.
“(The investigation) has moved from simply a TCOLE investigation into the AG’s office,” Judge Tab Thompson said. “So it is moving through the system.”
Following Monday’s meeting, Coates said he does not know what the investigation might uncover and expects to meet with the investigator in the coming days.
Coates was sworn into office in December following the passing of longtime sheriff Tommy Bryant who took his own life on Dec. 20.
The suicide came just days after it was first reported that Bryant was being investigated by TCOLE for allegedly allowing an employee to complete his continuing education training.
Within hours of Coates taking office, four top sheriff’s officials were suspended and later terminated including Chief Deputy Jason Upshaw, Captain Randy Fowler, Lt. Bobby Mendez and Sgt. Weldon Wilson.
”This is a very trying time in the sheriff’s office," Coates said at the time. "I cannot speak directly about the suspensions because those are personnel matters. What I can do is assure the people that we are packed full of very good people here, most of whom I have worked with either as an officer on the streets or on cases at the DA’s office.”
Since then Coates has worked to revamp the department by hiring a new chief deputy and captain and making other changes to streamline operations and improve morale.
But a cloud of uncertainly remains with more questions than answers and the beginning of another investigation.