Probe clears San Benito police chief

SAN BENITO — An investigation has cleared Police Chief Michael Galvan of any wrongdoing in connection with his privately recorded conversations that were leaked to the public.

An outside law enforcement agency found Galvan violated no laws when he recorded nearly 500 conversations that were later downloaded from the police department’s computer system, Mayor Ben Gomez said yesterday.

“There was no wrongdoing,” Gomez said. “There was not anything there.”

Gomez declined to disclose the name of the outside law enforcement agency which investigated the matter.

The city plans to issue a press release regarding the investigation’s findings, Gomez said.

Galvan could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In late May, commissioners launched the investigation after Galvan’s recordings were downloaded from the police department’s computer system.

Nearly 500 recordings were apparently downloaded from a public server at the San Benito Public Library and distributed to individuals.

The recordings apparently focus on conversations. Topics include police officer cases and citizen complaints.

Meanwhile, Officer Guadalupe Andrade said her attorney will determine if she will continue to pursue a sexual harassment case based on a conversation between Galvan and former Police Chief Martin Morales.

In a May 31 letter to commissioners, Andrade wrote the recent disclosure of Galvan’s private recordings show Morales agreed to dismiss her sexual harassment case to protect Galvan about two years ago.

Galvan’s recordings apparently reveal an hour-long conversation with Morales in which Morales agrees to “keep it to himself and that no one needs to know” and “this could blow up in our faces and ruin our careers and positions,” according to Andrade’s letter.

In the recording, she wrote, Morales tells Galvan, then assistant police chief, that Morales will “help him out.”

Last month, Galvan said police officers privately record conversations to better support their police cases.

But some union members claim Galvan issued a 2016 directive ordering “no one is to record with their own personal device, and if they are it has to be approved by the chief of administration.”

The union members made their claim in a May 30 no-confidence letter to Gomez and the City Commission.

In May, Galvan said he suspected a disgruntled police officer downloaded the recordings in an effort to damage his reputation because he implemented changes in line with police standards.

At that time, Galvan said the individual who downloaded the recordings and those in their possession could face felony charges of tampering with evidence.

Galvan said he would open an internal investigation to determine who downloaded the recordings.

Last year, Galvan took over as police chief after serving as assistant chief since 2012.