TABC Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   August 28, 2009

TABC Chief Moreno Takes Action Following Rainbow Lounge Investigation

On August 28, 2009, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) Chief of Field Operations Joel Moreno terminated the employment of three Fort Worth employees for their involvement in the Rainbow Lounge incident occurring June 28, 2009.

On June 28, 2009, TABC agents and officers from the Fort Worth Police Department arrested several individuals at three TABC-licensed locations in Fort Worth: The Rosedale Saloon located at 150 W. Rosedale, Cowboy Palace located at 160 W. Rosedale, and the Rainbow Lounge located at 651 S. Jennings. A patron at the Rainbow Lounge was seriously injured while in the custody of TABC.

Administrator Alan Steen immediately initiated an internal affairs investigation into the actions of the agents involved. Agent Christopher Aller and Agent Trainee Jason Chapman were placed on desk duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation. Shortly after the start of the investigation, Sergeant Terry Parsons announced his intent to retire effective September 2, 2009. Parsons has been using his accrued leave since that time.

On July 31, TABC Captain Andy Pena submitted an investigation report finding that Aller, Chapman and Parsons violated various agency policies. (See previous press releases here: http://www.tabc.texas.gov/home/press_releases.asp

Disciplinary Actions

As a result of the policy violations found during the internal affairs investigation:

  • Agent Trainee Jason Chapman (hired 4/1/09) has been terminated effective August 28, 2009. In accordance with agency policy, Chapman does not have the right to file a grievance because he is still on his six-month probationary period as a new employee.
  • Agent Christopher Aller (hired 4/4/04) has been terminated effective August 28, 2009. In accordance with agency policy, Agent Aller has been informed of his right to file a grievance with Administrator Alan Steen within ten working days.
  • Sgt. Terry Parsons (hired 9/1/89) has been notified of his termination effective September 2, 2009. In accordance with agency policy, Sgt. Parsons has been informed of his right to file a grievance with Administrator Alan Steen within ten working days.

Additionally, Fort Worth District Lt. Gene Anderson has been notified that he will receive three days suspension without pay and six months probation for inadequate monitoring of the training of new agents and inadequate supervisory oversight of his employees and their activities. In accordance with agency policy, Lt. Anderson has been informed of his right to file a grievance with Administrator Alan Steen within ten working days.

Finally, Captain Robert "Charlie" Cloud has received a written reprimand for failure to follow the incident notification policy, inadequate monitoring of the training of new agents and inadequate supervisory oversight of the Fort Worth employees and their activities.

Chief Joel Moreno said, "I have the full confidence that Lt. Anderson and Captain Cloud will be successful in implementing change and improving the service they provide to their communities. The first step is by working more closely with their employees, mentoring them and serving as positive role models by exemplifying the agency's four cornerstones: service, courtesy, integrity, and accountability. It is essential that every employee understands our core value: We do the right thing, not what we have the right to do."

TABC Administrator Alan Steen will not be available to comment on these disciplinary actions because he is responsible for making the final decision on any appeals.

Management Issues

In addition to the internal affairs investigation conducted by Captain Andy Pena, Chief Joel Moreno conducted a management review of the entire state's field operations, and the following changes are being made:

  • For the betterment of the agency, Sgt. John Busby will be transferred from Fort Worth to the Dallas TABC Office effective September 1, 2009. This is not considered a disciplinary action, but it will assist in creating greater opportunity for change in the Fort Worth District.
  • Agents' and sergeants' work hours are being changed. Agents will no longer be allowed to work four 10-hour shifts but instead will be working five 8-hour day shifts. This will create more agents on duty during the hours that TABC-licensed premises are operating. Sergeants will be required to spend the majority of their work hours on the night shift. This will also create more consistency between agents and first-line supervisors working hours, increasing the amount of supervisory oversight during the agents' work shifts.
  • TABC's Use of Force policy was revised effective August 4, 2009. A review of the policy began in early 2009 as the result of the U.S. Department of Justice recommendations for the Austin Police Department's Use of Force Policy. The primary change in TABC's policy was to move from a "use of force continuum approach" to an "objectively reasonable force" model. Additionally, a use of force expert will coordinate future use of force training classes.
  • The Use of Force Report form is being revised to provide TABC's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR / internal affairs) with an improved ability to collect valuable data and identify trends. Information collected on the reporting form will be uploaded into OPR's database, allowing the division to identify trends and make use of force training recommendations. This information includes whether the use of force took place on TABC-licensed versus unlicensed premises, the type and nature of the violation involved, the age, race and gender of the suspect, and the area of the state where the use of force is occurring.
  • Finally, Chief Moreno is making various improvements to the agency's training program.
    • Moreno has assigned an experienced field agent to review the agent trainee field training program to ensure that it meets the agency's needs with regard to program content, documentation, instructor and supervisor responsibilities.
    • A new agency regional training program has been approved and courses are currently being developed. It is scheduled for a January 2010 implementation. The agency's newly-developed regional training program increases the level of accessibility to appropriate continuing education courses and increases the number of course hours available to agents across the state.
    • Agents are currently taught de-escalation techniques in their defensive tactics class. However, the agency has plans for regional trainers to become certified in Verbal Judo, the industry standard de-escalation technique. The initial training of trainers will take place in November 2009, and agents will be trained in 2010.
    • TABC currently requires all employees to attend cultural diversity training, and the agency curriculum includes both sexual orientation and gender identity. However, TABC plans to increase the effectiveness of this training by collaborating with community groups to conduct additional cross-cultural education. Chief Moreno said, "I believe that improving relationships with community groups will create on-going support in both directions - to better meet community needs as well as state regulatory needs." The regional training coordinators will work with the headquarters training liaison to create new opportunities to combine and enhance outreach, education and dialogue at the regional level.

Chief Moreno said, "We are continuing to look at ways to bridge the gap between our employees and the communities we serve and to ensure that everyone who comes into contact with TABC is treated with respect. The changes outlined here are the first steps the agency is taking, but they will not be the last."

Use of Force Findings are Pending

A separate investigation report to address the issue of the agents' use of force at the Rainbow Lounge is still pending. That report will take into account statements by TABC employees, Fort Worth police officers, other eye witnesses, and expert witnesses. At this time, the agency expects the report to be complete in September.

Contact: Carolyn Beck, TABC Public Information Officer, 512-206-3347