DALLAS — Two police commanders who oversaw a narcotics division that wrongly jailed Mexican immigrants and others based on fake evidence have been punished, becoming the first high-level officers held accountable for the 2001 scandal, the police chief said Tuesday.
"I made this decision ... that there was responsibility up the chain of command and the only appropriate remedy would be these demotions," said Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle. "The message is that we're all accountable for what occurs under our command."
Assistant Chief Dora Saucedo-Falls was demoted to lieutenant. Deputy Chief John Martinez also faced a demotion, but announced his early retirement.
Until the action by Kunkle, only detective-level officers had taken the brunt of the punishment. Two detectives were fired.
Saucedo-Falls, the department's highest-ranking Latina, oversaw the narcotics division in 2001. Martinez had overseen the division when the problems began and reported to Saucedo-Falls.
A narcotics detective and a former officer were charged in April with evidence tampering in the scandal, in which informants framed dozens of people with billiards chalk bundled like drugs.
The demotions come about a month after two lawyers hired by the city to investigate found that lax supervision in the narcotics division contributed to the false arrests.
As a result of the report, the Police Department has reopened 70 criminal cases and more than 50 administrative cases, all of which are pending.
With Kunkle's action, all members of the chain of command involved have retired or been fired, demoted or transferred out of the narcotics division.