Body camera video from an August 14, 2018 traffic stop by a Huntsville, Texas police officer shows a senior official from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission flashing a badge and identifying himself as a deputy executive director of the state’s third largest law enforcement agency… even though he is not a law enforcement officer himself.
Dennis Beal is TABC’s deputy executive director of business & revenue operations, but according to records from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, he has never been licensed as a peace officer in Texas.
Shortly after the one-minute mark in the three-minute video, Mr. Beal displays a badge and agency credentials and states that he does not have liability insurance because he is driving a state vehicle. He also explains to the officer that he lives in Huntsville but works in Austin, and he is driving home after a meeting. He was released with a warning.
I emailed TABC spokesman Chris Porter to ask “why TABC issues badges to civilian employees and whether TABC has any policy governing the use of badges and credentials by civilian employees, particularly during traffic stops.” Here is his response:
TABC previously made it a practice to issue gold identification badges to its senior leadership, which includes Commissioners, the Executive Director and Deputy Executive Directors. These badges identify the bearer as an employee of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and are distinct from the badges carried by commissioned peace officers. The badge includes the bearer’s job title as well as the badge number. The badge does not identify civilian employees as commissioned peace officers, nor does it grant any privileges normally afforded to peace officers.
The latter sentence sounds like hair-splitting to me. If I had stopped Mr. Beal back when I was a deputy sheriff, and he flashed his badge and credentials as a deputy executive director of TABC, I would have reasonably assumed that he was a cop. I’m not saying TABC’s policy is unique, because the Houston Police Department once issued badges to spouses of HPD officers (and maybe it still does), but it all seems a little shady to me. [Continued on page 2].