Police Chief Chronicles I: Pinched in the Buttocks


OPINION — I have been around as a journalist in San Angelo since Chief Tim Vasquez allegedly pinched the buttocks of a confidential informant woman at the Oasis Night Club on Beauregard. I count four elections, including the one this month. I have seen very nasty competitions and some years with no election at all. Chief Frank Carter was effectively appointed to a second term in an uncontested race in the year 2020 because no one would run against him.

The San Angelo police chief election campaigns get nasty because police officers are competing against one another, and they’re all alpha males. I recall sitting for hours with candidate Jeff Davis in 2008, recording every detail of his grievances against then-Chief Tim Vasquez. Everything Vasquez did was “under investigation by the Texas Rangers,” and everything else Vasquez did was a felony. I didn’t write much about Davis’ complaints because he had no evidence or the matter was somewhat adjudicated four years prior.

For example, Town & Country (now Stripes) executive and Vasquez campaign finance chairman Devin Bates wrote a letter on company letterhead and maybe used corporate postage to send to colleagues and employees, urging them to participate in an upcoming fundraiser and donate to the Vasquez campaign in 2008. Corporations are forbidden from contributing to Texas campaigns, even in-kind, by the Texas Ethics Commission. Davis was still complaining it was a third-degree felony in 2016. The matter was settled in 2008 with a slap on Mr. Bates’ wrist.

The complaint was made by infamous San Angelo bar owner Blaine Martin of Blaine’s Pub. He didn’t care too much for Vasquez. After all, he owned a bar, and under Vasquez, SAPD afforded him the requisite DWIs that come with owning a bar. There’s more. Martin thought Vasquez was over-patrolling his by-then-canceled Blaine’s Picnics at the River Stage downtown.

Vasquez took a lie detector test to prove he didn’t pinch that girl’s buttocks. The complaint, he said, was shepherded through SAPD internal affairs by his opponent Davis, who was also said to be the CI’s handler. The incident earned a Texas Rangers investigation, and rumors were that it sparked the ire of U.S. Attorney Jeff Haag in Lubbock, who was angry Vasquez had “outed” the identity of the CI. She was whisked away somewhere, and no one has heard from her since. A grand jury no-billed the charges made by the Texas Rangers. More on Haag later.

When I met Vasquez in 2007 for a piece I wrote titled “Police Chief Under Fire” for the print version of San Angelo LIVE!, I didn’t recognize him as a crook, though I wondered if he did pinch that girl’s buttocks. He was young and full of energy that would lend someone to believe it could be true. I met him at an Easter egg hunt put on by TLC Church near San Angelo Stadium. My conclusion, which Vasquez hated to read, was that if the police chief spent more time at church functions where I met him, not bars, maybe he wouldn’t leave himself open to accusations of pinching the buttocks of females. Vasquez didn’t talk to me for four years after that article ran during the heat of the 2008 election. He won the five-way race handily anyway. In reality, the whole saga was ridiculous, but in San Angelo police chief election contests, even ridiculous episodes turn legend, and at least one contest turned into hard time in federal prison.

The 2016 police chief forum put on by the San Angelo Tea Party.Here, Lt Mike Hernandez told Vasquez that he no longer trusted him.

The 2016 police chief forum put on by the San Angelo Tea Party.Here, Lt Mike Hernandez told Vasquez that he no longer trusted him.

The year 2016 was absolutely the worst police chief election. I was still trying to figure out how to position our fledgling online paper in the political realm. The lesson ended in the only annual loss San Angelo LIVE! as a company has ever suffered. By the time the Brad Goodwin vs. Carmen Dusek 391st District Judge race, Vasquez vs. Carter police chief race, and Trump concluded, I was left pulling $55,000 out of my own buttocks to cover my company’s loss. I’d rather be pinched by a police chief candidate instead. That was the year I was told by my sales guy that San Angelo political power broker and banker Mike Boyd “would never, ever support me” because I refused to endorse his judge candidate Goodwin. Multiple advertisers pulled over the Vasquez vs. Carter race. Carter had a ton of support but not from me. A large ad buy by Vasquez at the end of his unsuccessful runoff with Carter was never paid. I ate it. My conclusion was that police chief races are bad for business. I also learned that as a company, we would never, ever endorse a political candidate. Folks just don’t want to be told for whom to vote. By the way, that year my competitor, the San Angelo Standard-Times, endorsed Vasquez over Carter. No one complained, either.

About this piece:

In the wild and wacky world of police chief elections, where candidates are more hostile than a porcupine in a balloon factory, the San Angelo LIVE! Publisher Joe Hyde has taken it upon himself to pen a multi-piece exposé. This thrilling saga dives into the history of San Angelo police chief elections since the 2000s, aiming to not only entertain you but also explain why these elections are as tricky as herding cats. Reporting on them? Well, that’s a whole other rodeo, where friendships end faster than a celebrity marriage. Next, brace yourself to learn about information warfare with chemical munitions and all about the Good 'Ol Boys who want to decide this election.

  1. Police Chief Chronicles I: Pinched in the Buttocks
  2. Police Chief Chronicles II: The Smartest Guy Doesn't Always Win the Election
  3. Police Chief Chronicles III: How Hernandez Loses
  4. Police Chief Chronicles IV: Meet the Good 'Ol Boys
  5. Police Chief Chronicles V: Shilling for the Government
  6. Police Chief Chronicles VI: Chemical Munitions
  7. Police Chief Chronicles VII: Timmy 2.0
  8. Police Chief Chronicles VIII: Stolen Valor

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Let's spend a little time on District Attorney Steve Lupton's investigation of Tim Vasquez that resulted in a No-bill verdict. Following Vasquez outing a Federal Confidential Informant, word got out that a Mexican Gang planned to kidnap the woman and her daughter, take them to Mexico, torture them, and murder them. The woman and her daughter were whisked away by Federal Marshals.

Lupton, doing the right thing, asked the Texas Rangers to investigate. Up to this point, the Rangers had not been involved with Vasquez. According to the Investigation, that was made public after Vasquez was "No-billed", numerous old wealth supporters of Vasquez and Lupton met with Lupton prior to the Grand Jury being empanelled. Following the Rangers investigation, a Grand Jury was formed and the foreman just happened to be a retired policeman that had been a supervisor for the previous Chief that supported Vasquez.

District Attorney Lupton had the investigating Ranger removed from the Chamber, and told the Jury that indicting Vasquez would serve no useful purpose and Vasquez was No-billed.

Several Firsts came from the Vasquez Grand Jury Trial. Never had a District Attorney requested the Rangers to investigate an individual and then have the Ranger removed from the proceedings before evidence could be presented. Never had the Texas Rangers made an investigation of sort public information immediately following a No-bill by a Grand Jury. They thought that the media would do the rest.

The Ranger investigation is over nine hundred pages long and takes hundreds of hours to put in chronological order so that it can be understood.

Ranger Palmer was brought to San Angelo to investigate political corruption after having investigated almost a dozen Bexar County politicians and aiding the County DA's office in convicting them and sending them to prison.

Not one of our local politicians were ever indicted during his tenure here. He was promoted numerous times and retied with the rank of major.

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