TX Reinstates Female Trooper, Fires Male Trooper Involved in Elicit Search

After being dismissed for over a year, the Texas Department of Public Safety reinstated the female State Trooper who conducted an illegal cavity search in Brazoria County during a traffic stop in May of 2012 early last month.

As previously reported, this was the second search that occurred last year in which a female agent failed to change gloves between conducting full cavity searches on the women they had pulled over. Both searches were ordered by male DPS agents during traffic stops.

DPS Director Steven McCraw said he was rehiring Trooper Jennie Bui after a grand jury chose not to indict her for the traffic stop in Brazoria County.

While the case is still in litigation, the first of these disturbing cases that occurred in the Dallas area reached a settlement of $185,000 in a federal civil rights lawsuit. There is no information other than the original reports of the female trooper conducting having been fired by the DPS, while the male trooper was placed on paid suspension. Therefore, we can only assume that there are no changes to this situation. Even though both of these cases are eerily similar, only the second of these cases has been deemed worthy of a practical assessment by DPS. Apparently for Director McCraw, these incidents were only worth honestly settling the second time around.

In the Brazoria County traffic stop, Trooper Turner pulled two women over as they were driving home from Surfside Beach near Houston last Memorial Day. After reportedly smelling marijuana, Turner called in Trooper Bui to conduct the roadside cavity search.

After the Brazoria County Grand Jury declined to take any action against Trooper Bui, the DPS released this statement:

AUSTIN, TEXAS - Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw has reinstated Trooper Jennie Bui after a Brazoria County Grand Jury declined to take any action against her regarding a body cavity search conducted during a traffic stop in May 2012. The Department took preliminary action in June to terminate Trooper Bui shortly after learning about the incident.

"After extensive criminal and administrative investigations surrounding the facts and circumstances of this incident, it was determined that the relatively inexperienced trooper was directed by a more senior trooper to conduct the inappropriate search. While the actions of Trooper Bui constitute misconduct, I believe her actions are mitigated such that she should not be terminated from the agency. Instead of being discharged, Trooper Bui will be suspended without pay for 60 days and placed on six months disciplinary probation, and will be required to attend additional training regarding arrest, search and seizure," Director McCraw said.

Based upon the results of an internal investigation, the more senior trooper, Nathaniel Turner, was terminated.

"Trooper Turner's conduct was unacceptable, and violated DPS policy and was outside any authorized training provided to Trooper Turner by DPS," Director McCraw said. "DPS holds its employees to the highest standards, and we will continue to take immediate action in any instance of misconduct to ensure our employees are held accountable."

Unfortunately, this logical conclusion occurred after over a year of dealing with this incident. It took over a year and a long lawsuit that has yet to be settled to encourage the DPS to make a fair judgement on the actions of its employees. In this incident and in the one in Dallas, the female troopers should not have been the only parties held responsible for their mishandling. If both searches were ordered by male troopers, and they failed to advise or correct their colleagues, then it is obvious that they should be the ones held responsible. It's unfortunate that this conclusion could not be applied to both cases, forcing one female trooper to be more at fault because of the instructions of her male counterpart.

The DPS has also stated that every commissioned officer will be required to re-familiarize themselves with the department policy on strip searches and body cavity searches. After that review, each officer will be required to sign an acknowledgement of receiving, reading and understanding the search policy. After these two embarrassing incidents and painfully slow action on behalf of the Department of Public Safety, we can only hope this will prevent any future events from happening, or at least provide a pathway of accountability of our State Troopers if it does.

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