Editor’s notes: This is the first installment of a two-part series. Part two will detail Chief Dudley’s separation agreement.
KTAB and KRBC are choosing to keep the identities of all officers and employees who filed complaints against Dudley anonymous to give them privacy, though several were named in the documents.
ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Newly released documents shed light on a number of allegations about former Abilene Police Chief Marcus Dudley’s performance during his two years on the job.
Dudley prioritized the mounted patrol unit over other police department needs, had officers drive his children around and run errands for him, created a hostile work environment and practiced gender discrimination, city employees say.
Those revelations were included in hundreds of emails and pages in his personnel file, which the Texas Attorney General decided should be made public after BigCountryHomepage.com filed a public information request under the Freedom of Information Act.
At least eight employees, from ranking officers to civilians, filed complaints or official grievances against Dudley during his service, which began in January 2021.
Dudley tendered a resignation letter March 10, with an effective last date of March 31. He was on leave during that time but did attend the Texas Police Leadership Series training March 20-24.
He also received a separation agreement from the city. The terms of this package will be outlined in the 2nd installment of this report.
City officials say the search for Dudley’s replacement is a thorough process that will take until at least the end of 2023. An anonymous survey showed employees want their new chief to have integrity and accountability as a top priority.
Mounted unit ‘a disgrace’
One of the biggest issues was Dudley’s apparent fixation on a mounted horse patrol unit, which debuted for the first time in Abilene the fall after he was sworn into office.
Every single email, complaint, and grievance mentioned the mounted patrol unit in some regard. Many claimed Dudley was more concerned with getting money for it than other department needs, including rising ammunition costs and training for mental health services.
Meanwhile, they say Dudley applied for grants and solicited local churches for money for the mounted patrol.
A civilian employee referred to the unit as “a disgrace to the majority of the Department, and a parade/joke.” Other divisions felt like they had to scrape for training funds and other tools “necessary to keep our officers and citizens safe.”
Dudley was accused in multiple emails and complaints of trying to convince a donor who wanted to give $20,000 to the department to buy a new canine to use the money for the mounted patrol instead.
One unnamed employee accused Dudley of using money from the apparatus fund to reimburse expenses from the mounted patrol.
Officers drove his children around, ran errands
Rumors of Dudley having officers drive his children around and run errands for him while on duty were addressed, specifically in two sworn statements from a ranking officer who was involved in these allegations.
The officer picked Dudley’s kids up from a bus stop and drove them to the police chief’s home. “This took place during my duty hours on duty time in a city vehicle and outside the city limits of Abilene,” he said.
He also denied Dudley’s allegations of a suspicious person being the reason why he picked the kids up, saying he had never heard of this before and was only told to get the kids due to the weather. He accused Dudley of abusing his power and misusing official information.
The same officer waited for cable guys to show up outside of Dudley’s duplex while on duty, he said. He sat in his patrol car waiting for more than an hour, then went inside and helped set up a television in the master bedroom, spending around two hours of on-duty time on that work.
“I did not volunteer, but I felt compelled as his subordinate to assist in this undertaking,” the officer said. “It was not presented to me in the form of a question.”
Dudley confirmed in an email to the city manager that he did have officers pick up his children twice. “… Officers offered to help me when short notice meetings were scheduled,” he said. He claimed one of the times was because a suspicious person had been near his home.
Dudley also confirmed he had an officer wait at his home for cable service. When he moved into his duplex in May 2021, he had a doctor’s appointment that conflicted with the installation appointment, he said, so he had a lieutenant let the technician inside before going into the office for the day.
Chief Dudley has “created the most unhealthy, unpredictable, volatile, vile, and hostile work environment I have ever worked in.”
Another common issue included in the emails, complaints, and grievances was the notion that Chief Dudley created a hostile work environment during his tenure as Chief.
One employee opened her email by saying, “no one wants to wake up every day and come to work with dread.”
Another employee filed an official grievance with the City of Abilene, which included allegations that Chief Dudley, “has created the most unhealthy, unpredictable, volatile, vile, and hostile work environment I have ever worked in.”
In their complaints, two ranking officers expressed feeling “excluded or singled out”, and one email referenced “an all-time low” morale within the Department.
Many of the released documents contained similar complaints, alleging that Chief Dudley was hostile toward subordinates who requested vacation time, also claiming he was often late or didn’t show up to meetings, made last minute or late decisions regarding grants and important deadlines, was focused on riding with the Mounted Patrol Unit during public events instead of mingling or interacting with citizens, and often berated employees in the presence of others.
Several of the documents also alleged Chief Dudley showed favoritism and promoted officers who helped build his home, even removing long-ranking officers from their senior positions in order to move some of these officers into more favorable positions.
Accusations of gender discrimination
Two official grievances, both filed by female employees, accuse Dudley of gender discrimination.
A civilian employee filed an EEO complaint form with human resources.
“Chief Marcus Dudley has created a hostile work environment due to his discrimination of women,” she said.
She expressed the belief that Dudley was targeting “non-sworn women in power” after she was berated for taking a sick day to stay home with a loved one after a doctor’s appointment.
“Once again, I took this as confirmation that Dudley was once again singling me out for no reason other than I am a woman, who had [a loved one] to tend to by using my accrued hours, and a civilian,” she said.
Another employee was removed from a director position for what she believes is retaliation over some paperwork and documentation issues with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) that she tried to resolve when Dudley was hired.
Dudley would not give her a reason for her removal, saying it “wasn’t up for discussion,” she said.
She also claimed Dudley was, “retaliatory and spiteful to females.”
Both Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna and Police Chief Marcus Dudley released statements hours after this article was published.
Hanna says the City, “conducted a thorough investigation of the complaints and grievances made against Chief Dudley, and none were sustained”, and Dudley states that “with no findings of wrongdoing and outside the realm of due process, I am having to respond to these meritless /unfounded accusations.”