Police audio probe moves forward

SAN BENITO — The city might be closer to disclosing findings of its investigation surrounding Police Chief Michael Galvan’s private recordings of conversations downloaded from the police department’s computer system.

Tomorrow, city commissioners are expected to meet in closed session with City Attorney Ricardo Morado to discuss the “police chief’s leaked records,” the meeting’s agenda states.

“We’re just going to review whatever they found,” City Commissioner Esteban Rodriguez said, referring to the internal investigation.

“They’re going to bring us up to speed.”

Earlier this month, commissioners called for the investigation into Galvan’s recordings of private conversations with city officials including commissioners and police officers.

Nearly 500 recordings were apparently downloaded from a public server at the San Benito Public Library and distributed to individuals.

The recordings apparently focus on conversations whose topics include police officer cases and citizen complaints.

Meanwhile, Officer Guadalupe Andrade has requested the city reopen the sexual harassment case she filed against Galvan about two years ago, when he served as assistant chief.

In a May 31 letter to commissioners, Andrade wrote the recent disclosure of Galvan’s private recordings show former Police Chief Martin Morales agreed to dismiss her sexual harassment case to protect Galvan.

Galvan’s recordings reveal an hour-long conversation with Morales in which Morales agrees to “keep it to himself and that no one needs to know” and “this could blow up in our faces and ruin our careers and positions,” according to Andrade’s letter. In the recording, she wrote, Morales tells Galvan, then assistant police chief, that Morales will “help him out.”

Last month, Galvan said police officers privately record conversations to better support their police cases.

But some union members claim Galvan issued a 2016 directive ordering “no one is to record with their own personal device, and if they are it has to be approved by the chief of administration.”

The union members made their claim in a May 30 no-confidence letter to Mayor Ben Gomez and the City Commission.

Last month, Galvan said he suspected a disgruntled police officer downloaded the recordings in an effort to damage his reputation because he implemented changes in line with police standards.

At that time, Galvan said the individual who downloaded the recordings and those in their possession could face felony charges of tampering with evidence.

Galvan said he would open an internal investigation to determine who downloaded the recordings.

Last year, Galvan took over as police chief after serving as assistant chief since 2012.

Police Chief Michael Galvan’s recordings

– Recordings were accessed from a public computer server at the San Benito Public Library

– Recordings of conversations with city officials and police officers and citizens

– Recordings apparently involve police officer cases and citizen complaints