City of Valley Center reviews law enforcement hiring process after recent arrest

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VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (KSNW) – The Valley Center Police Department is taking some heat after one of their Sergeants was arrested for child sex crimes, including rape and sexual battery.

Wednesday, the Valley Center Police Chief resigned, after officials learned Thomas Delgado’s personnel file wasn’t fully checked.

Now, the city is looking at changing the hiring process for police officers.

City officials are going back to what they call “the basics” when it comes to the hiring process.

The City Administrator, Scott Hildebrand, has asked an investigator with the police department to provide a check list for officials with each new hire.

The City of Valley Center is moving forward with a new strict hiring process.

“Obviously it’s frustration and a little bit of shock. You don’t expect that from your officers,” said Hildebrand.

Prior to joining the Valley Center Police Department, authorities say Sgt. Delgado was involved in an incident with a teen girl during a ride along, while with the Sedgwick Co. Sheriff’s Office.

An investigation determined Delgado was at fault, but his actions were not criminal and the incident remained in his personal file.

Valley Center Police Chief, Mark Hephner did a background check on Delgado before hiring him.  Although, a document about the incident with the teen was never reviewed.

“The chief had relied on the summary page of the investigator at that time instead of reading through the file and discovering in fact that the disciplinary history is not there,” stated Hildebrand.

Due to that mistake, Hildebrand said the police department hired someone they probably wouldn’t have.

Mayor Dove tells KSN that’s why the policy of vetting new officers will change.

“We have instituted some administrative oversight to make sure that that information packet is intact and proper with everything that we need before we move forward on anything,” explained Mayor, Laurie Dove.

According to Hildebrand, personnel files with the police department have been audited.

On Thursday, he told investigators to go through each officer’s file, to examine documentation and to make sure that no other issues slips through the cracks.

City officials still have full confidence in their officers.

“The direction that we’ve given our staff at the present time is to just go out there and keep doing what you’re doing and keep being a positive influence to stay active in the community to just continue to show people that hey, this was a onetime incident,” said Hildebrand.

City officials are currently searching for an interim police chief, outside of valley center, who will be able to enforce this new hiring process.