New Caney and Conroe, November 9 – Grand Jury subpoenas have issued in the investigation of Precinct 4 Montgomery County Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden and his Chief Deputy Barry Welch, while the evidence-gathering has also taken an unexpected twist. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Office is leading the investigation of Hayden and Welch after the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement’s (TCOLE) Enforcement Division began the investigation. A Montgomery County Grand Jury is hearing the case.
Several Montgomery County employees received subpoenas over the past two days to require them to provide documents to the Grand Jury and to the investigators. Texas law enforcement officials served the document subpoenas on Hayden, Welch, an administrative assistant in Hayden’s office, the Montgomery County government’s Human Resources Department, County Attorney, and Information Technology Department, according to three current County employees, one former County employee, and a Texas State employee who spoke with The Golden Hammer on the condition of anonymity.
The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) has investigated Hayden and Welch over whether or not they turned in false training and certification documents to the state agency with respect to a civil law class they supposedly took a year ago. The documents involve instances where Hayden and Welch were course students and also circumstances where they provided training to others. Civil law is the centerpiece of the constitutional duties of a Constable under Texas law, since their required duties involve service of civil process, such as lawsuits and civil complaints.
TCOLE investigators spent a full day examining records in Hayden’s Constable’s Office in New Caney on Thursday, June 7, 2018. The investigators returned to Hayden’s Office for another day of investigation on Tuesday, June 12. They have also investigated records at the City of Roman Forest, which is the official “training provider” for law enforcement agencies in East Montgomery County. Skolaut, Watts, and other TCOLE investigators have returned to Montgomery County to interview witnesses and review internal documents inside of law enforcement agencies. The investigation also included whether Welch has engaged in retributive actions against potential witnesses involved in the TCOLE investigation.
Hayden spoke with The Golden Hammer on Thursday, June 14, and confirmed the pendency of the investigation. He did, however, state, “We’ve provided TCOLE with information that we believe shows that we are in full compliance with TCOLE regulations and with Texas law.” Hayden explained that he provided the information to TCOLE on Wednesday, June 13, but that he could not comment further about the matter because it is an ongoing investigation.
”I try to provide the best public safety and law enforcement services to keep the people of East Montgomery County safe,” Hayden told this newspaper. “Serving this community is what I love to do.”
TCOLE is the main regulatory agency for all certified peace officers in the State of Texas, including sheriffs, deputies, constables and their deputies, marshals, police officers, and other similar law enforcement positions. All law enforcement officers must take 40 hours of continuing education, training, and certifications every two (2) years. Constables and their deputies must have 20 hours every two years in civil process, since that is the primary statutory duty of constables under Texas law.
In recent years, TCOLE and local law enforcement agencies have become far more strict to ensure compliance with the education, training, and certification requirements.
Unusual twist to investigation
Law enforcement officials have also begun to investigate whether Hayden, Reserve Deputy T.J. Knox, and others may have engaged in “official oppression” in 2011 when they arrested an African-American gentleman with an extensive criminal record, after he left a traffic stop, which the Texas Department of Public Safety had initiated.
Allegations have arisen that Hayden dunked Slaughter in a pond for lengthy periods of time after Hayden arrested him late at night. There are also allegations that Hayden made some potentially racist comments during the arrest.
While it’s possible that investigators could seek to prosecute Hayden for the official oppression issue, there is also a strong likelihood that the statute of limitations may prevent such a prosecution. It is possible that Hayden’s conduct, if verified, could constitute an “extraneous offense” for consideration during any sentencing hearing, if a criminal case against Hayden proceeds.