Galveston police association sues chief for failing to address grievances

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Nov. 3, 2010, 5:30pm

GALVESTON - Alleging the Galveston chief of police intimidated them into not openly addressing its grievances, the Galveston Municipal Police Association has filed suit against him and the city of Galveston.

Galveston Police Chief Charles Wiley allegedly threatened the members of the police association after he learned that the group planned a public information campaign about the proposed layoffs of police officers and firefighters, according to a lawsuit filed Nov. 3 in Galveston County District Court.

The city of Galveston announced the likelihood of reducing the size of the police and fire departments for the 2010-2011 fiscal year three months ago in response to budget constraints which triggered substantial public concern, the suit states.

According to the suit, open discussions were held to devise plans to convince elected officials to look elsewhere to cut the budget, including discussion on the impact on public safety.

Wiley met with the GMPA in September to ask about its activities, specifically the erection of a billboard. He allegedly used threats and intimidation toward each of the members in an attempt to dissuade the organization, the original petition states.

The plaintiff insists that the officers had no choice but to meet with the chief because it is part of their duties and he is ahead of them in rank. It further explains that Wiley purportedly sent an e-mail later that same month addressing and decrying the group's activities.

The chief encountered one of the member officers, who was off-duty in plain clothes, at a Sept. 23 Galveston City Council meeting and ordered him to leave, the suit says.

Court papers point out that the officer, Robert Sanderson, did not address the city council on behalf of the plaintiff on the Galveston Police Department Collective Bargaining Agreement because of Wiley's alleged actions.

Sanderson and fellow officer Jimmy de los Santos are also plaintiffs in the case.

The GMPA signed a vote of no confidence in Wiley last month.

League City attorney Gregory B. Cagle is representing the plaintiff, and Galveston County 56th District Court Judge Lonnie Cox is presiding over the case.

Case No. 10-cv-4089

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