Roma council begins talks with police force

ROMA — The first round of talks between the Roma city council and the city’s police officers were held Tuesday evening as part of an investigation into the city manager and the police chief.

The council spent about three and a half hours in closed session during Tuesday’s special meeting of the city council, calling in four police officers, one by one, to discuss complaints lodged against Police Chief Jose H. Garcia and City Manager Crisanto Salinas in letter sent in July.

In the letter, dated July 15, several officers detailed their grievances which largely dealt with lack of resources within their department that Garcia and Salinas allegedly failed to address.

Among the issues listed in their complaint were the lack of pay raises, lack of adequate firearms training, the condition of their police units, and requests for schedules they say would be more productive for their duties.

Following the letter, the majority faction of the city council — consisting of Council members Jose G. Cantu Jr., Gilberto Ramirez Jr. and Joel Hinojosa Jr. — voted on Aug. 14 to initiate an investigation into the conduct of the police chief and the city manager.

Prior to actually taking a vote on the matter during that Aug. 14 city council meeting, the council met with Garcia and Salinas behind closed doors to get their side of the story.

However, after voting to move forward with the investigation, Hinojosa said he felt it was necessary to look into the situation further and — seeing as how the majority of their complaints stemmed from lack of funding — said the “investigation” would consist of meeting with the police officers as the city worked on their budget for the next fiscal year.

After meeting with the four officers Tuesday, Mayor Roberto Salinas said the council agreed they would not comment on the proceedings until the investigation was complete, at which point he said they would make a public statement.

“Once we’re done, we intend to issue a report to the city manager and to the chief and then we’ll issue a press release,” Mayor Salinas said, estimating the investigation would last at least another couple of months.

“Maybe toward the end of the year,” he said.

Hinojosa, one of the council members, said they would likely speak to four officers every two weeks. The Roma police department has about 24 officers.

“So it’s going to take some time,” Hinojosa said.