While Defenders investigative reporter Dillon Collier was attempting to get information on the delayed booking of Constable Deputy Leonicio Moreno he found that Precinct 2 Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela had changed the way people can make an open records request in violation of the Public Information Act.
The only requirement for an open records request is that the request be in writing. They are not even allowed to ask you why you want the information. Constable Barrientes Vela has changed how people can make a request from Precinct 2. Her new policy is that an individual must come in person or email her directly.
The deadlines were repeatedly violated, both with the initial request and then with the subsequent request which was made by email, following Barrientes Vela’s “policy.” In June the Defenders informed Barrientes Vela that they would be releasing the story. She finally said that the vehicle’s recording system wasn’t working so there wasn’t any footage. How convenient. Perhaps instead of asking for $2,147 for patches to brag about being the first female constable, which she is not, she should be requesting money to repair the recording system in that patrol unit.
I watched the Commissioners Court video when Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela spoke in regards to allegations of her shaking down park attendees to pay for her and her deputy constables’ overtime. I listened to one deputy constable in particular. He claimed to have a large number of years in law enforcement, military experience and something like a degree in psychology, I think. He said he used to always believe Constable Offices were the worst and encouraged all of his people not to join one.
He eventually moved to Precinct 2 with Constable Barrientes Vela, a long-time friend of his, and said it opened his eyes. He went on and on about how professional they all were and that he would even say they were the most professional officers of all officers there are and how professional Constable Barrientes Vela is. Everything we are seeing shows his comments for the lies they were.
You can read Dillon Collier’s comments regarding the violation of the Public Information Act here. Go towards the bottom of the article. The section you want is titled, “The Texas Public Information Act, and how it works.”