DAVE MICHAELS, Austin Bureau
Copyright 2006 THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS
GLADEWATER - When the Gladewater Police Department fired Bryan Naismith as a dispatcher in 1993, his performance was so poor that his boss listed him as ineligible for rehire.
A decade later, the city hired him as a police officer.
Police departments typically list employees as ineligible for rehire so the employee doesn't return. The designation becomes a red flag that background investigators for other departments look for when hiring new officers.
According to city records obtained by The Dallas Morning News, Officer Naismith was obstinate and unsuccessful as a dispatcher. He longed to be a police officer and would try to talk complainants through emergency calls himself, instead of immediately sending an officer to a location.
On one occasion, he waited eight minutes to dispatch officers to a car accident that caused injuries, city records and interviews show. In a small town like Gladewater, a major accident is high priority. The incident led to his termination, according to city records.
"Have had numerous and continuous complaints of rudeness from fellow employees and citizens," James Keene, Gladewater's chief at the time, wrote in his dismissal letter. "It has become very evident that Mr. Naismith is unable to function as an emergency service dispatcher."
Officer Naismith's dispatch experience in Gladewater apparently influenced the Kilgore Police Department's decision to reject him for a job later that year.
A Kilgore officer who interviewed Officer Naismith wrote that he "came across as forceful and arrogant" and "a little evasive concerning past employment."
Officer Naismith left law enforcement for several years, then returned to Gladewater as a reserve officer in 2002. A new Gladewater police chief, Jimmy Davis, hired him as a full-time officer in September 2003. At the time, he was working his way through a personal bankruptcy, with debts more than four times his annual income.
Chief Davis said he hired Officer Naismith without checking his previous employment with the city.
"I knew him [Naismith] when he worked here," said Chief Davis, who was assistant chief in the early 1990s. "He was doing a good job as far as I was concerned."
Jason Abend, executive director of the National Law Enforcement Recruiters Association, said Gladewater's failure to consult the officer's previous employment file is "inexcusable."
"The last thing you want is for the lowest common denominator to get through," said Mr. Abend, a former U.S. Secret Service agent. "Basically, he should have never been hired."
The FBI is currently investigating Officer Naismith's shooting of Jonathan King, 25, last year. An Upshur County grand jury declined to indict him in January.
Chief Davis said Officer Naismith has performed well since his hiring. In his first evaluation, the office's sergeant - a friend once listed as a reference when Officer Naismith applied to the department - wrote that the officer met expectations.
On June 27, four days after the shooting, Sgt. Bill Clampitt gave Officer Naismith roughly the same grades, in virtually the same language he used a year earlier. The sergeant noted his handling of stressful situations had improved. The evaluation did not mention the shooting.
Texan fired as dispatcher, hired as officer, under investigation