Edinburg Asst. Police chief stripped of his duties

An assistant police chief here was recently stripped of his title, but don’t call it a demotion, police chief Cesar Torres said Thursday.

Former assistant chief Juan “Jay” Hernandez is back on patrol after Torres removed him from the assistant police chief post in late December.

“I’m not going to go into the details as to why he was unappointed, but he was not demoted,” Torres said. “A demotion is when somebody takes an exam and earns that particular position, and here at Edinburg police, that position is at the leisure of the police chief.”

Unlike officers vying to become a lieutenant or sergeant, an assistant police chief in Edinburg doesn’t have to take a written exam or compete for the post.

The chief can appoint anybody to the rank of assistant chief, Torres said, “and he or she can also unappoint them, and that’s what happened in this case.”

Hernandez was elevated from patrolman to assistant chief almost a year ago, shortly after Torres took the reins as chief. Hernandez, however, soon made headlines again after news broke that he had allegedly purchased Jennifer Lopez concert tickets with the police union’s credit card without prior authorization.

The allegation sparked an internal investigation that found Hernandez did not act outside the color of the law and a Texas Ranger’s investigation, which has not led to any criminal charges.

None of this, however, had anything to do with the stripping of his duties as assistant chief, Torres appeared to indicate Thursday.

“There’s no disciplinary issues against him. No complaints. Nothing. He did an outstanding job as an assistant chief,” Torres said. “But I did talk to him and sat down with him and told him, ‘It’s just a new direction.’ That’s all.”

Torres also noted that the only way to remove a sergeant or lieutenant from their respective post is through disciplinary action, unlike Hernandez, which the police chief said had high marks.

“He went above and beyond and I’m proud of the work he did,” Torres said.

The Monitor previously requested any disciplinary actions taken against Hernandez, but there were no responsive documents for the request.

Torres has yet to appoint anyone to the now vacant post.

“I’m gonna make that decision here in the next month-and-a-half,” he said. And when he does, “it’s not going to be called a promotion.”