Galveston officers lash out against their chief

Galveston Police Chief Charles Wiley announced his plans to retire effective July 7.
October 22, 2010 3:18:11 PM PDT
An overwhelming majority of the Galveston police force has sent a message to the city saying they want new leadership. We first told you last month about an uproar from the police union over allegations that the chief had suppressed the free speech rights of the officers.

Now, officers are speaking out with a vote of no confidence against their chief.

Galveston Police Chief Charles Wiley had no comment. Police officers aren't talking, either. One officer told Eyewitness News they've been ordered not do interviews or speak at public meetings while in uniform.

The turmoil within the Galveston Police Department may not be the talk of the town, but it's nonetheless concerning to residents like Joann Dore who just heard about it.

"That is their chief, and so, if the officers themselves don't feel confident that the chief is not doing his job right, yeah, that would concern me," Dore said.

On Thursday, the vast majority of Galveston's police officers -- an overwhelming 85 percent -- signed a vote of no confidence in Wiley's leadership skills.

The police association's executive director, Tom Gaylor, told Eyewitness News by phone the message is clear. Officers desperately want a new leader.

"He's not interested in helping the officers do better in their job, do better for the citizens of Galveston," Gaylor said. "He's just interested in coming in and using intimidation and fear tactics to beat the officers over the brow."

In the survey conducted earlier this week, 116 of the police department's 137 officers said they had no confidence in Wiley's ability to lead the police force. Only four said they did.

Some residents worry that the internal strife could affect public safety.

"Cops will probably have a different change of attitude towards how they work and why they should be working," resident Aaron Owens said.

The poll was conducted after the chief sent out a controversial email; it was directed at police department employees and was in response to a rumor that some officers intended to put up a billboard insinuating Galveston was unsafe. They wanted to do it in opposition to the recent staffing cuts.

Gaylor says the union intends to file a lawsuit against Wiley claiming he violated officers' free speech rights by keeping them from attending or speaking at city council meetings.

City Manager Steve LeBlanc did not want to comment because of the possibility of pending litigation. We are awaiting a response from the mayor.

Galveston City Council Member Elizabeth Beeton told Eyewitness News by phone she has full confidence in Chief Wiley's leadership ability and called him an effective leader.


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