SAN JUAN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — San Juan city leaders are meeting Monday to discuss the employment of their police chief — and could take action as severe as discipline or dismissal, according to the meeting’s agenda.
In a special-called meeting, the city commission will adjourn at 12:10 p.m. for only one purpose: They will meet in executive session and then reconvene in open session regarding “the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline or dismissal of a public officer or employee.”
The chief of police is that employee, the agenda shows.
Chief Ruben Morin was placed on paid suspension Sept. 27 following a contentious discussion in executive session, which are typically not accessible to the public. However, in an unusual turn, Morin requested the session be public — and so he and the commission aired out the matter as cameras rolled and residents listened on.
The city commission then heard that police officers had been called aside to discuss the results of a Texas Municipal Police Association survey.
“It should have been confidential, a survey that no one should have been asking, talking about until after the fact,” City Manager Ben Arjona told city commissioners. “I can see some form of retaliation as officers now feel intimidated.”
Arjona then recommended the commissioners place Morin on administrative leave for a minimum of two weeks as he investigated the city’s concerns. The recommendation passed before Morin had a chance to respond to the allegations.
The mayor abstained from the vote, saying he had not seen the survey and wanted to abstain in fairness to the chief.
Morin took issue with the manner in which the TMPA survey was conducted, but he denied the any allegations that he targeted any employees who took the survey.
“At this point, there’s a process we are going though, obviously,” Mayor Mario Garza told the police chief after the decision to place him on leave during an investigation. “I cannot tell you what to predict in the future, but I can guarantee you, you are going to have your day, and you’re going to sit down with us.
“Obviously, if you want to sit down with us, we have to post it if it’s going to be all of us together. Or you can sit down with two, you know we can’t have a quorum — however you want to address us. We will work around your schedule, just let us know. But you’re going to have your day.”
The city commission again met in executive session to discuss the police chief on Oct. 3.
Leandro Sifuentes has since been serving as the acting police chief.
The city commission will meet Monday at the San Juan Memorial Library’s multipurpose meeting room, at 1010 S. Standard St. in San Juan.