San Juan residents want police department disciplinary process to change

Some San Juan residents want to do away with the police department’s current disciplinary process after an officer accused of excessive force was reinstated.

Officer Juan Galindo was placed on indefinite suspension in December when video showed him kneeing a handcuffed man.

Galindo was able to appeal his suspension to an arbitrator because San Juan follows a civil service code.

Otherwise, the police chief's word would likely be the last word.

“Civil service is a set of rules and the majority of the time when the department disciplines someone and an officer appeals they lose,” said Charley Wilkinson, the Executive Director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas.

Galindo, though, didn’t lose. The arbitrator ruled in his favor clearing him of any wrongdoing and allowing him to return to the force.

Some San Juan residents aren’t happy about that.

“If this is what a civil service is going to do, protect officers on duty who react as such, then why do we have it there?” said San Juan resident Ramiro Trevino.

San Juan voters passed the civil service code during 2009, but Trevino wants to bring the issue to voters once again.

“We are thinking of putting together enough signatures to put the civil service back on the election process so we can remove it,” Trevino said.

Wilkison said doing away with civil service could come with some risks because the civil service code also provides guidelines on the hiring and promotion processes for officers.

“They can get rid of it if they want. If they do, they’ll be going back in time to a place where certain safeguards as far as hiring the best qualified will no longer be in place,” he said.

The code can be placed on the ballot if 10% of registered voters sign a petition.

Police Chief Juan Gonzalez declined to comment on this story.

An attorney for Juan Galindo was not immediately available for comment.

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