Jesus “Eddie” Campa

Jesus “Eddie” Campa, the executive director of the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, speaks to academy cadets at a graduation on Friday, Sept. 13, in Ada. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

 

The executive director of Oklahoma’s law enforcement training agency resigned from his post as a Texas police chief in 2017 while under scrutiny for allegedly placing secret tracking devices on the vehicles of several police officers.

Jesus “Eddie” Campa was hired by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) in late 2018.

Short, with broad shoulders and a sprinkle of white creeping in his close-cropped hair, Campa is energetic and expressive. He talks fast, and often slaps his hands together when making a point. His accent has a hint of Texas twang, and when he speaks, sometimes the syllables seem to roll together to form one word. 

The Frontier

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His resume is filled with references to various initiatives he claims to have launched in Marshall, like “Cool Cops,” where officers would drive a tactical vehicle that had been turned into an ice cream truck to give treats to children, or “No Colors No Labels,” a campaign aimed at “bridging the gap” between police and diverse communities.  

But Campa’s exit from his last police job in Marshall, Texas, where he served as police chief, was contentious. Officers there gave him a no-confidence vote, and he left the agency while the Texas Municipal Police Association was looking into allegations he had misspent donated money and secretly placed tracking devices on patrol vehicles.

There are possibly as many as a dozen websites registered to Campa, one of which appears to be an attempt to sell an animated series based on his life. In a newsletter earlier this year announcing Campa’s hire, it claimed Campa was “working with” Netflix on the series, though Netflix denied this.

A state police association agent in Texas who said he spoke to an OSBI investigator conducting a background check on Campa on behalf of CLEET said he told the investigator not to hire Campa.

Several council members who voted last year to offer Campa the job of CLEET director told The Frontier they were unaware of many of these allegations, though many are easily found through an Internet search.

When the councilors voted in October to offer Campa the executive director job with a salary of $93,653.76 plus benefits, they did so with a 9-0 vote.

Clint McNear, an agent for the Texas Municipal Police Association, which bills itself as “The Voice of Texas Law Enforcement,” told The Frontier that TMPA traveled to Marshall, Texas, in 2017 in support of officers who felt there were issues with Campa. 

McNear told The Frontier TMPA initially got involved after allegations were made that some money that had been raised by an office had been misspent by Campa. As that was being looked into, a Marshall officer whose vehicle was being repaired found a track device hidden under the vehicle, McNear said.

Eventually, several officers found devices under their vehicles, and felt they had been targeted by Campa, McNear said. They were unaware the GPS devices were on the vehicles and had not been notified by the agency that any of the devices had been purchased or were being put into use.

McNear said Campa resigned at the Marshall Police Department before the investigation was completed, so TMPA dropped the case.

McNear told The Frontier that Campa gave conflicting answers when questioned about the GPS devices. Campa, McNear said, told him the devices were part of a “planned rollout” of new radio equipment that would allow dispatchers to track the location of officers. 

But, McNear said, “you wouldn’t purchase and (hide) GPS systems to roll out a new radio system … those are two completely unrelated and separate systems.”

McNear said Campa then told them that the devices were actually part of his plan to track the activity of his most active officers. Yet, McNear said, they found one of the devices on the patrol vehicle of an officer who did not patrol and was in fact stationed at the police headquarters building all day.

McNear said a records request TMPA made with the city of Marshall for emails by Campa including the words “GPS,” and “global positioning” returned an email sent by a city employee to Campa including a username and login for a mobile app that would allow him to track the GPS devices on the officers’ vehicles. 

Campa said placing GPS devices on the vehicles of officers without their knowledge was “not unethical.”

“If it was illegal, it would be unethical,” he said. 

“It’s not illegal, what’s the problem? I was targeting you? Prove it.”

Campa, in an interview with The Frontier, said that the problems in Marshall stemmed from his desire to “change the culture” at the agency. 

“When I got hired in Marshall … these were my orders,” he said. “We have issues, we have racial issues, there’s racial tension, we’ve got things we need to address … (they told me) we need change, we need people held accountable. So that’s what I did.

“When you’re that type of leader, when you hold people accountable, when you do what you’re supposed to do, people will resent you for that.”

‘I don’t remember hearing that story’

Before they can graduate from CLEET’s lengthy police academy, dozens of academy cadets must first filter into the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center at East Central University. 

Before long, they will graduate from the academy and head off to places like Jenks, Wilburton, or Tecumseh, where they’ll work as certified law enforcement officers. But first they have to listen to Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police Chief Randy Wesley give a speech.

Wesley, a longtime police officer in Oklahoma, quotes former President Calvin Coolidge, who said of police officers: “No one is compelled to choose the profession of a police officer, but having chosen it, everyone is obliged to live up to the standard of its requirements.”

Sitting about 15 feet to the left of Wesley, wearing a deep blue suit and purple tie, is Campa. 

The Frontier spoke with five CLEET council members about Campa’s hiring, asking if they had knowledge of the allegations against him from his time in Marshall.

All the council members who spoke to The Frontier about Campa said that while he disclosed allegations against him in both El Paso and Marshall, they were all unaware of the specifics of the TMPA investigation.

The Frontier spoke to Chief Michael Robinson, the chairman of the CLEET Council, as well as council members Chris West, Canadian County Sheriff; Ricky Adams, director of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation; Dr. Katherine Lang, an ECU professor; and Pat Mays, a major with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

The Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training facility

The Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training facility in Ada. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

Robinson, who records show made the motion to offer the job to Campa, said an OSBI background check did not “justify” any allegations that had been made against Campa. 

“We asked OSBI to look into some of those allegations that arose during his tenure,” Robinson said. “They did not find any evidence to those claims.”

But Robinson also said he had never heard of anything related to a TMPA inquiry, something The Frontier confirmed with a phone call to TMPA’s office. He said he was not given a copy of the background investigation and did not believe other council members were given one. 

Instead, Robinson said, he received a “brief verbal summary” of the OSBI agents’ findings.

Other council members had similar responses. West said Campa “passed” the background check, but also said “This is the first I’m hearing about this,” when a Frontier reporter asked about the allegations made by Marshall officers that resulted in TMPA’s involvement. 

Campa told The Frontier that he believed he told the CLEET council about TMPA and the allegations against him in Marshall.

“I’m transparent, I’ve got nothing to hide,” he told The Frontier. “I don’t know if they asked a question (about it) and I had to say something to the effect of ‘this is what happened.’ In a lot of police chief interviews nowadays a lot of times the first question they’ll ask is ‘If we do a Google search about you, what are we going to find?’”

Adams, head of the OSBI, said his agent traveled to Marshall and spoke with officers, and returned with no evidence of any wrongdoing by Campa.

But when asked about TMPA looking into secret GPS tracking devices and financial misappropriation, Adams said “I don’t remember hearing that story.”

McNear told The Frontier that he spoke directly to the OSBI agent conducting the background check on behalf of CLEET, and said that the agent cut him off halfway into the interview.

“I was basically telling him about what we had found and what officers (in Marshall) had said, and he cut me off and said ‘Let me stop you, because this is what I’ve heard from other people too. It’s clear this isn’t the guy for us.”

Mays said he would “have to look back at his notes,” before answering questions about Campa, but would be unavailable for several days. Lang said she could not discuss anything that took place during times CLEET’s council went into executive session.

Asked if she had been aware of allegations against Campa prior to or after those executive session meetings, Lang reiterated she would not speak about Campa’s hiring.

Other council members who voted in favor of Campa — Bixby Police Chief Ike Shirley and Tillman County Sheriff Bobby Whittington — did not respond to requests for comment. Former Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty and Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Scully, both of whom voted in favor of Campa, could not be reached for comment. 

Asked how Campa’s job performance had been in his nine months as executive director, neither Robinson nor Adams would offer comment.

Adams said that of the group who applied for the CLEET director job, Campa “turned out to be the best of the group.”

“He was extremely good,” Adams said.

The many websites of Jesus Campa

Any Internet search of Campa will return various news stories from his time in Texas.

It will also return links to a number of websites registered under Campa’s name.

Among them, there’s a LinkedIn page under his name titled “The Strange Case of Deputy Jesus Eddie Campa and Lucha Libre,” which includes a copy and paste of a news story from The Marshall News Messenger about Campa’s wrestling career as a villain named “El Jefe.” 

A Tumblr page titled “www.JesusEddieCampa.tumblr.com,” links to a site that includes pictures of Campa, seemingly random videos, and a headline “Prison Reform Virtual Border Wall Procedural Justice.” Under it is a button titled “Farewell Chief We Love You.” Clicking it takes you to a television news story about his resignation from the Marshall Police Department in 2017 in which he states he and his family are moving to Florida. 

There are multiple other pro-Campa websites:

There’s also a website called www.abcmorningnews.com that might appear in a web search as being affiliated with a national ABC news show. But the website is merely a placeholder, albeit with “Team Campa” graphics and a link to www.jesuscampa.com

Another site lists a placeholder example email address and a 555-prefix phone number. It talks about his awards, his history in El Paso and Marshall, but says that he is a “retired law enforcement executive chief of police, security expert, corporate security consultant and procedural justice practitioner.” It includes a non-working link for law enforcement who “would like to get involved in Prison Reform,” and another link to a different site under his name.

Campa told The Frontier that the various websites were a response by him to an “anonymous blog” that had criticized him.

Campa said he “did what anybody else would do” in response.

“We contacted some PR firms … We did create a couple of sites to compete with it. You want to see the negative, well, here’s the positive,” he said.

Campa said he “should probably have my agent go through all these websites and clean them up.” 

Some of the pages have disappeared following Campa’s interview with The Frontier.

Another site, www.IamelJEFE.com, appears to be an attempt by Campa to sell an animated series he dubs “a comical depiction based on the true story of a Hispanic Police Chief named Jesus who accepted a Police Chief position” in the fictional town of “Novision, Texas.” 

Campa said on the website that “Novision” is a stand-in for his “struggle as the chief of police in Marshall, Texas.”

In a newsletter sent by CLEET in January that announced Campa’s hiring, it said Campa “is currently working with NETFLIX and 12 More Rounds x Infinity Productions on an animated series based on the adventures of a minority police chief which is based on the life of the Director.”

An excerpt from a CLEET newsletter

An excerpt from a CLEET newsletter earlier this year announcing Campa’s hiring. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

A spokesperson for Netflix told The Frontier “there is no project here” like “I am El Jefe.” Additionally, the production company “12 More Rounds x Infinity Productions” does not appear to exist.

On one of Campa’s websites, it says “the long awaited series … has been given the green light for production by 12 more rounds x infinity productions.” On the site there is a promotional logo for “12 More Rounds X Infinity Productions.” The image, a picture of worn, vintage boxing gloves with the company name laid over it in text, appears to only exist on this particular Campa website. A Google search for “old boxing gloves” returns the same image of the same boxing gloves as a stock image available on dozens of other websites — sans text identifying it as part of a production company. 

CLEET council members who spoke to The Frontier said they were unaware of the animated series or Campa’s alleged deal with Netflix, despite it being promoted in the agency newsletter.

Campa said he was “no longer associated” with the alleged production company, and that while the “I Am El Jefe” project was still in production, he can’t talk about the former or current production companies because of non-disclosure agreements.

“It’s in production,” he said. “Again, I can’t get into who, what, where, how.” 

‘I must be doing something right’

As for his past, Campa counters allegations made by TMPA and former officers who worked for him that he was a poor leader by pointing to a crime rate reduction he said Marshall saw immediately after his hire. 

He said that when he left Marshall in 2017, the officers under him may have been disgruntled, but the community respected him.

“Most of the time somebody leaves … people show up just out of obligation,” he said. “It was the community of Marshall, the people that I was supposed to protect and serve, the people that employed me, the people I was hired to protect. They threw me a farewell party. When does that happen? Especially in a community that has its racial issues, especially with the police.”

Campa said the fault for any problems former officers had with him is due to his management style and desire to hold officers accountable, rather than wrongdoing on his part. 

“My response to that is OK, 21 years with the El Paso Sheriff’s Office, retired as chief deputy of the law enforcement bureau, became chief of police in Ector County, became chief of police in Marshall, Texas, now I’m the CLEET director,” he said. “I must be doing something right.”

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