Group wants Galveston police chief to resign

September 27, 2010 3:41:29 PM PDT
There's a fight over jobs and the safety of residents in Galveston. Big budget cuts have forced some tough decisions in the city recently, especially when it comes to the police department. Now one group is calling for the police chief's resignation.

It all has to do with an e-mail the police chief recently sent out to his employees. The e-mail is so big that it's caught the attention of one of the state's largest police associations.

Less than a week after Chief Charles Wiley fire off the controversial e-mail, the fallout from that message is still being felt.

"Here I am fighting for his employees, and he hasn't done a thing to fight on their behalf," Galveston City Councilman Chris Gonzales said.

The e-mail directed to all police department employees responded to rumors that some employees had intended to erect a billboard in opposition of recent staff cuts. The sign reportedly would've depicted a man covering the mouth of a child, alluding, the chief said, that the island is an unsafe city.

In his e-mail, Wiley wrote, "To instill fear in residents that we're sworn to protect and service is intolerable and inexcusable."

He vowed to hold anyone who participated accountable.

"We don't want our police union to do something inflammatory that causes the citizens to fear for their safety or to lose their respect for our police department," Galveston City Councilwoman Elizabeth Beeton said.

But others have accused Wiley of trying to stifle officers' freedom of speech.

In a letter to the Galveston city manager, the Texas Municipal Police Association demanded Wiley step down or get fired.

"If Chief Wiley is not immediately terminated or resigns, then 'swift and certain' legal action will be taken," the group wrote in the letter.

"I wish the officers would come out and speak openly about this without fear of being retaliated against," Gonzales said.

Eyewitness News' attempts to interview Wiley were unsuccessful.

In a statement from the city, officials denied limiting officers' right to speak out, defending however the need to cut back on staff.

"Our citizens need a lot, and we have to deliver all of that to them," Beeton said. "In this economy, it's not easy to do that."

A total of 36 positions will be cut. The city says that's because Galveston has seen a smaller population and is experiencing fewer calls for service.


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