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Sheriff: off-duty deputies guarding pipeline are independent

February 9th, 2017 under Top Stories

By the Marfa Big Bend Sentinel/Presidio International staff

MARFA — Any off-duty Presidio County Sheriff’s Office employees working security shifts for the Trans-Pecos Pipeline are free to do so as independent contractors. That’s the office’s policy, Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez said Monday.

Dominguez recently started his 20th year as Presidio County Sheriff. He runs a private security firm called Big Bend Securities, which contracts with local businesses, film productions and events to provide security. Big Bend Security Co. has a long-standing contract with the Village Farms tomato greenhouse growers.

In letters to the Marfa Big Bend Sentinel and in recent conversations with staff, Presidio County residents have expressed concern over the sheriff’s relationship with Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the 143-mile Trans-Pecos Pipeline.

There’s no contract between Big Bend Security Co. and the pipeline company, Dominguez said.

“My guys off-duty do [security at the pipeline],” he said. “My deputies work over there. They do it on their time off. They don’t do it on county time.”

Other area law enforcement agencies have similar policies. Brewster County Sheriff’s Office employees are allowed to work security for the pipeline, Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson told the Marfa Big Bend Sentinel/Presidio International.

“There’s no double dipping, they do it on their own time,” Dodson said.

Customs and Border Protection employees can work side jobs as long as they request permission from their superiors, according to Public Affairs Officer Roger Maier.

“There is a form they fill out which describes the nature of the work, time commitments, if there are any conflicts and such,” Maier said in an email.

The same is true for Border Patrol agents working in the Big Bend Sector, according to Border Patrol spokesperson Stephen Crump.

Crump and Maier said no employees of their agencies have requested clearance to work security for the Trans-Pecos Pipeline or Energy Transfer Partners.

Sheriff Dominguez has generated some controversy in the past over his refusal to sign a conflict of interest statement that County Judge Cinderela Guevara adopted for county elected officials and department heads in late 2015. The statement asks officials and department heads to declare any conflicts that might arise from business deals with the county or with entities the County leases property and equipment to or from.

The county commissioners court has previously raised the possibility that Big Bend Security Company’s contracts with Village Farms could constitute a conflict of interest. Village Farms leases property for its tomato-growing operations from Presidio County. The Sheriff, however, maintains he has no conflict to declare.

“It’s all legal, there’s no conflict,” Dominguez said. “It’s my private company. It’s not the Sheriff Office. It’s not a conflict. People who don’t approve of me are making it a conflict.”

 

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