City to review investigation into police chief

SAN BENITO — The city will apparently release findings of the investigation into Police Chief Michael Galvan’s private recordings that were downloaded from the police department’s computer system in May.

Tomorrow, commissioners are expected to meet with City Attorney Ricardo Morado to discuss “legal issues related to leaked police chief’s records,” according to the meeting’s agenda.

Last week, Mayor Ben Gomez said an outside law enforcement agency’s investigation cleared Galvan of any “wrongdoing” in his private recordings of city officials including commissioners and police officers.

But Gomez, who did not return messages asking for comment yesterday, declined last week to disclose the name of the law enforcement agency that investigated the case.

City Manager Manuel De La Rosa called for the closed-session meeting “to brief the city commission on the status of the police matter,” city spokeswoman Martha McClain said in a statement.

Commissioner Esteban Rodriguez said the city has not disclosed any investigation findings to him.

“They’re going to bring us up to date — find out what happened,” Rodriguez said, referring to tomorrow’s meeting.

In a June 20 closed-door meeting, he said, commissioners agreed to request an outside law enforcement agency investigate the matter.

But Rodriguez said he did not know which law enforcement agency took on the investigation.

“I still don’t know who did the investigation,” Rodriguez said. “I want to know who did the investigation and who cleared him. I’d like to have something in writing so our citizens can be assured we’re being thorough in this investigation. If there’s no wrongdoing, that’s great, let’s put it behind us and move forward.”

In tomorrow’s meeting, commissioners are also expected to discuss with Morado the local police union’s letter of no confidence against Galvan and a “related complaint.”

On May 30, members of the union presented the letter of no confidence to Gomez and the commissioners.

Eight officers signed the letter, while the letter indicates fear of retaliation stopped 12 other officers from signing.

There are 38 officers in the department but its union membership is unclear.

In the letter, union members claim Galvan’s leadership and behavior have led to low morale among officers.

“Chief Galvan has launched an unnecessary and demoralizing attack on our integrity,” the letter states.

“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.”

Union members also 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.”

Meanwhile, officer Guadalupe Andrade has 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 former Police Chief Martin 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.”

In late May, commissioners launched an 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.

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

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.