Image: Precinct 4 Montgomery County Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden (center, with beard) attended the East Montgomery County Republican Women’s “Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner” on January 9, 2019.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE, DECEMBER 31, 2019: THERE HAS BEEN A MAJOR UPDATE TO THIS STORY. THE TEXAS COMMISSION ON LAW ENFORCEMENT CLEARED CONSTABLE KENNETH “ROWDY” HAYDEN OF ALMOST ALL CHARGES. PLEASE SEE “Texas Commission On Law Enforcement Clears Hayden Of Wrongdoing Related To Alleged Errors In Reporting Training,” The Golden Hammer, December 31, 2019.
Conroe and New Caney, January 15 – A Montgomery County Grand Jury will begin to hear evidence in the pending investigation in which Precinct 4 Montgomery County Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden and his Chief Deputy, Barry Welch, are targets on Tuesday, January 22, 2019, in Conroe. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Office is handling prosecution of the matters begun after the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) began the investigation last summer.
Two TCOLE investigators, who have requested anonymity, told The Golden Hammer they expect indictments against Hayden and Welch in approximately 4 to 5 weeks for allegedly falsifying and tampering with government records related to their law enforcement training and certification. There is also a component of the investigation, which delayed bringing the case before a Grand Jury sooner, involving whether Welch attempted to intimidate witnesses in the case.
Office operational issues
It does seem somewhat strange that Hayden and Welch are not under suspensions – with pay – from their duties in the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office. Hayden has strictly enforced a policy that employees of Precinct 4 under investigation are suspended until the investigation is complete.
During the autumn of 2018, Deputy Constable Trevor Potter was the subject of a law enforcement investigation and Hayden suspended Potter with pay. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office never presented evidence to a grand jury in Potter’s case. Hayden reinstated Potter.
Administrative Assistant Jana Lee Lea is currently under suspension, after she was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated on September 15, 2018. Lea’s criminal case is pending before a County Court at Law in Conroe. Meanwhile, Lea has enjoyed suspension with pay. Please see “In The Corrupt Montgomery County Government, Getting Arrested For DWI Provides Ultimate Paid Vacation,” The Golden Hammer, January 9, 2019.
As a part of the TCOLE investigation, TCOLE subpoenaed Chief Deputy Welch’s desktop computer from the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office. As a result, Welch has had to use a computer in the Constable’s booking room during the pendency of the investigation, according to three employees who work in the office and requested anonymity for fear of reprisal.
Several Montgomery County employees received subpoenas last year 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. At least two officials with the City of Roman Forest in East Montgomery County also had to respond to document subpoenas.
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. 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 several days examining records in Hayden’s Constable’s Office in New Caney beginning 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. 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, which has become a major component of the evidence the Attorney General’s Office is likely to adduce before the Grand Jury.
Hayden spoke with The Golden Hammer on Thursday, June 14, 2018, 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.”
Hayden remains a popular Constable in Precinct 4 who maintains a close political alliance with Precinct 4 County Commissioner James Metts. Both Metts and Hayden are members of the Davenport Ring, the group of politicians who have taken their direction from corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport.
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 the individual 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.