By Anita Miller
When Ray Helm turned in his gun and badge July 31, it was under threat of prosecution. The former Hays County Precinct 3 Constable accepted a deal from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE): Either surrender his license for life, or face prosecution of wrongdoing including felony offenses.
Helm had held his position since 2016 and won handily over challenger Jessica Deatherage in the March GOP primary. He had no Democratic opponent and would have, on Nov. 3, secured his second four-year term.
He had also overcome an investigation into the legality of his being issued peace officer certification despite a prior criminal conviction for criminal mischief
The wrongdoing he was accused of that eventually led to his leaving office stemmed from a so-called “training exercise” in April 2018 that his employees would later tell investigators was instead a TV commercial for a drone company.
Helm and four deputies reported for the “training” to find a production crew had already set up cameras and for the rest of the day they all acted only on direction from the production company. There was no handout, no exam and notably, no instruction in flying drones. The “instructor” was the owner of the drone company and was not certified by TCOLE.
Helm, however, submitted paperwork to TCOLE indicating the day was spent in training and all were given credit for undergoing the training.
When he became aware he was under TCOLE investigation in February of this year, Helm falsified evaluation forms and a memorandum “to memorialize a training class that was nothing more than a commercial for a drone company,” the TCOLE report reads.
Helm apparently also attempted to retaliate against one of his deputies, Gary Griffin, who he accused of misuse of official information and other wrongdoing. Helm got warrants signed by 45rd District Court June Did Junkin, who is up for election in November but currently holds the post because he was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott in November 2018. Griffin turned himself in at Hays County Jail in January, but the district attorneys in both Hays and Caldwell Counties refused to prosecute.