A group that teaches county sheriffs they outrank the FBI and even the President of the United States will be prohibited from offering state credit for courses taught to Texas law enforcement officers, The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) announced Friday.
That decision comes after a months-long TCOLE investigation which began as a result of questions NBC 5 Investigates posed to the agency about messages promoted in law enforcement training sessions conducted by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, or CSPOA.
In an NBC 5 documentary series “Against All Enemies,” released in January, legal experts said messages the CSPOA has taught to Texas police officers and sheriffs have no basis in constitutional law. Training materials NBC 5 obtained through open records requests, and interviews with CSPOA supporters, revealed the training sessions included claims that local law enforcement officers have powers to block federal officials including the FBI and that the constitution gives them the power to decide for themselves whether laws are constitutional or not.
NBC 5 Investigates also obtained course rosters showing sheriffs and police officers from more than 85 Texas law enforcement agencies had attended CSPOA training sessions, and at least 58 of the state’s elected county sheriffs had taken part in those events.
The CSPOA’s founder, Richard Mack, is a former Arizona sheriff and a former high-ranking member of the right-wing Oath Keepers, a group that has also preached that current and former law enforcement officials have a constitutional duty to block what the group’s leaders have described as the “tyranny” of the federal government.
On Friday, TCOLE sent a letter to Mack, notifying him the organization will no longer be allowed to teach courses for continuing education credits which are awarded to Texas peace officers by TCOLE as part of licensing requirements.
The letter from TCOLE Interim Director John Beauchamp states in part, “…the material presented is best categorized as political discourse and similar content will not merit TCOLE training credit in the future.” Beauchamp said there was no legal authority cited or found for some of the material the CSPOA has presented in training sessions.
In a memo summarizing TCOLE’s months-long investigation, Beauchamp detailed what TCOLE investigators heard at CSPOA events, including claims that “’This is a war’ in which local, state and federal agencies have been ‘weaponized against you’ through an ‘incursion’ of ‘state and federal bureaucrats’ that have been ‘infiltrated’ and placed traitors and saboteurs in local authority.’”
NBC 5 reached out to Mack and other CSPOA officials for comment Friday but messages were not immediately returned.
Since 2021, records obtained by NBC 5 Investigates show Mack and CSPOA members, including some elected Texas sheriffs, have crisscrossed the state, holding training classes called “The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope.” The most recent CSPOA training event was held in April 2023 in Wood County.
Watch the NBC 5 Investigates award-winning documentary series “Against All Enemies” in the player below:
Mike Ortiz and Don Peritz, Jr. contributed to this report.