"No Records Exist" In Police Chief's Multi-Agency Investigation Into Leaked Recordings

San Benito, TX - San Benito city leaders have denied requests for on camera and over the phone interviews regarding the leaked audio recordings investigation into the city’s top cop, Chief Michael Galvan. 

News Center 23 is questioning if an investigation ever took place based on an email from the city’s public relations director on behalf of the City Manager Manuel De La Rosa, “the City Manager communicated with the agencies through telephone conversations or in person and therefore there are no documents to provide.”

 Three outside law enforcement agencies were tasked to determine if Chief Galvan violated any laws with the recordings. The city of San Benito City Council voted to take ‘no action” on their police chief after more than 90 minutes in executive session. According to City Attorney Ricardo Morado the three-separate outside law enforcement agencies found “no evidence of wrongdoing”

News Center 23 pressed for answers to learn the names of the agencies but the city was less than transparent with their response;

Attorney Ricardo Morado: "The matter of the police department's recordings have been reviewed by three separate outside law enforcement agencies. 

Reporter Derick Garcia: "Right what were the three outside law enforcement agencies? "

RM: "I'm not at Liberty to say that I have no further comments."

DG: "But you understand why the community and the public would ask who those outside agencies were." 

RM: "I'm not sure I do."

The lack of transparency, no action being taken and no record of an investigation stems from a “No Confidence” letter to the city by Chief Galvan’s police officers. 

Twelve stars at the bottom of a typed letter are "silent" officers who fear retaliation from San Benito Police Chief Michael Galvan. The letter is addressed to San Benito Mayor Ben Gomez and City Commissioners pleading to investigate their concerns into Chief Galvan leadership. In the May 30th letter, San Benito Police/Employee Association and civilian staff wrote,

"Chief Galvan has launched an unnecessary and demoralizing attack on our integrity. Our concerns stem from several months of unethical and unprofessional behavior by Chief Galvan which is highlighted by his inability to separate personal issues from professional ones. Due to Chief Galvan's poor leadership, morale has dropped to an all-time low in our Department." 

The letter went on to highlight examples such as Chief Galvan's audio recordings to be leaked and his efforts to justify the recordings. According to the letter, Chief Galvan's recordings have not been turned into evidence and he has not been on a police case since 2011. News Center 23 has not confirmed the legitimacy of the claim. 

Chief Galvan has admitted to saving the recordings on a public domain, according to the letter "if the 'voice recordings' are actually evidence, then he may have compromised the cases by not submitting the recordings through the proper chain of custody." 

 

The letter, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, concludes with "we have no confidence in our chief and wish to bring to light our concerns because he has violated our Police Officer's Code of Ethics, has tarnished the Honor in our Badge, and has abused his official capacity as Chief."

Following city council meeting the city said [Chief Galvan]is in a high-profile position in his role as police chief and he is held to a high standard of ethical and professional conduct. The members of the City Commission, as elected officials, are accountable to our citizens and recognize that the public wants to know more. We can only report that this continues to be a personnel matter handled by the City Manager’s Office. Any changes in policy or practice resulting from this matter will be determined by the Commission. In the meantime, it would be inappropriate to comment further based on speculation.”

In response to News Center 23’s information request, City Manager De La Rosa said “the Texas Public Information Act is probably what you should have cited in your request, rather than the FOIA.”

A FOIA is a Freedom of Information Act request which is how news agencies gather public record, which San Benito has honored in the past for previous reports and for information regarding the leaked audio recordings. Regardless of the type of request, the outcome is the same public record is released. 

News Center 23 will be at the city's next city council meeting and push for answers in a public forum.

 


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