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Dale cries foul; City releases complaint against Commissioner Tetreau

December 21, 2018

In a six-page complaint submitted to the now-abolished City Commission Audit & Oversight Committee, Brownsville Police Department Lt. David Dale said he believes Interim Chief James Paschall demoted him in a politically motivated move relating to the process of selecting a new police chief.

Dale also accuses District 2 Commissioner Jessica Tetreau of using her position on behalf of a friend to end a schedule change for the BPD’s downtown bicycle unit that would keep some officers on the streets after 5 p.m.

The complaint submitted to the Audit & Oversight Committee was to be considered by city commissioners Dec. 4, along with an independent review of an internal audit concerning the fire department’s use of a non-permitted private ambulance company connected to embattled former fire chief Carlos Elizondo, who is facing two criminal indictments -- one for theft from the firefighters union and another for computer security breach. Elizondo has maintained his innocence.

Instead, Tetreau, District 1 Commissioner Ricardo Longoria Jr., District 3 Commissioner Joel Munguia and Commissioner-at-Large "A" Cesar De Leon voted to abolish the committee. Mayor Tony Martinez, Commissioner-at-Large "B" Rose Gowen and District 4 Commissioner Ben Neece voting against the dissolution.

Dale’s complaint was filed Nov. 5 and details how he believes Tetreau interfered with the Brownsville Police Department’s operations.

"I ask for an immediate and independent inquiry into the aforementioned points," Dale wrote. "Our elected officials can not [sic] inject themselves into police operations in the manner of inappropriate actions which can hinder efficiency and effectiveness."

Dale alleges Tetreau interfered with bicycle patrol operations, assisted an officer, or officers, in preferential treatment over the city’s needs and interests, and impacted the morale of BPD officers. He also claims Tetreau said "that management ‘are now endangering the safety of some of our city employees’ without all the facts."

He also said Tetreau criticized Neece, whose downtown district is directly impacted by Tetreau’s alleged involvement with the bicyle unit schedule change.

During that Dec. 4 meeting, which was City Manager Noel Bernal’s first official meeting, Neece and Tetreau traded barbs, with Neece speculating that abolishing the Audit & Oversight Committee was an attempt to quash Dale’s complaint, and Tetreau saying she felt extorted and asked the police department to investigate Neece.

The next day, Tetreau filed a complaint with The Brownsville Police Department alleging Neece abused his official capacity by trying to threaten her "into not voting on particular items on the agenda."

That case is open pending further investigation, according to the police report, which is dated Dec. 7.

Tetreau later told The Brownsville Herald that she never attempted to dictate to anyone in the police department regarding operations, but expressed concern that after-hours police patrols were being reassigned to downtown.

"At no time did I ever compel or direct anybody on what to do," Tetreau said. "My thought was to protect constituents from losing their police presence."

The bicycle unit does not patrol in Tetreau’s district.

According to Dale, who said in his complaint that Tetreau inferred that since "she sits with the majority on the commission and she gets what she wants, and since the selection of the new police chief is coming up it is a good idea to keep the commissioners happy."

Dale has applied to be chief of police. Paschall has not.

According to Dale, a little more than two weeks after now-retired Police Chief Orlando C. Rodriguez appointed Dale on Aug. 11 as acting chief, Ramiro Gonzalez, a Brownsville government affairs liaison scheduled a meeting with Assistant City Manager Art Rodriguez, himself and Dale to discuss the bicycle patrol.

"As Acting Chief of Police, I was asked to see if we could assist the downtown businesses around market square in having the bicycle patrol officers be scheduled in the evening hours," Dale wrote in his complaint.

On Aug. 31, Dale wrote that he met with Sgt. Fernando Flores, who is the bike patrol supervisor, and told him to adjust bicycle patrol hours so that two morning officers began their shifts at noon, instead of 9 a.m., meaning they would work until 8 p.m. instead of 5 p.m., and everyone would have Sundays and Mondays off.

"Sgt. Flores advised there were no issues regarding this change," Dale wrote.

Within an hour, according to Dale, Tetreau sent an email to then-Interim City Manager Michael Lopez, Assistant City Manager Art Rodriguez and to Dale.

"I am formally requesting a meeting at your convenience on Tuesday. This email serves as documentation of concern that decisions that your management have made are now endangering the safety of some of our city employees," Tetreau wrote.

About an hour later, Dale said Lopez called him to ask if changes had been made, to which Dale said yes, but they had not taken place yet.

"Lopez stated to cancel the changes due to a commissioner getting involved," according to Dale.

On Sept. 4, Dale texted Lopez asking to meet with him prior to meeting with Tetreau so he was aware "of all the facts."

After a text exchange with Lopez about a meeting, Dale said Tetreau instead called him and that several attempts to meet with Lopez were unsuccessful.

By Sept. 17, Lopez appointed Paschall as interim chief, removing Dale as acting chief. That same day, an officer named Diana Martinez was assigned to Code Enforcement, according to Dale.

"Therefore, since she has been assigned, her partner was riding by himself for several hours and for this reason I adjusted this officer’s schedule so it could coincide with an existing schedule of 12pm to 8pm," Dale wrote.

According to Dale, Paschall inquired about the changes and told Dale to change it back to the way it was, which was 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with weekends off.

"Chief Paschall gave the appearance as if someone told him to change the schedule but I did not inquire further into it," Dale wrote. "It was later learned that Sgt. Flores had made a comment to civilian staff saying that they (bicycle patrol unit) had gotten their weekends off, the response was something to the effect, ‘That’s Diana and politics.’"

According to Dale, Martinez, who is assigned to the bicycle patrol unit, has a strong relationship with Tetreau.

"It was apparent that she didn’t want to have her hours adjusted and had somehow communicated with Commissioner Tetreau on August 31st after Sgt. Fernando Flores advised her of the schedule change," Dale wrote. "In speaking with Sgt. Flores on several occasions, he had advised me that Commissioner Tetreau calls officer Diana Martinez numerous times on a daily basis and assists her in many tasks for some time now."

Dale then expresses that he filed the complaint to bring about the facts.

"I hope to end this kind of response to where an officer can reach out to a commissioner and change operations that have been forethought with detail in regards to safety and downtown community needs as well as interrupting another commissioner’s district," Dale wrote.

He then asks the now-abolished Audit & Oversight Committee to look into Paschall, who Dale claims met with him, Lopez, and Neece where Dale informed them he would be filing this complaint against Tetreau.

"During this meeting, it was discussed I would be afforded protection, possibly under the whistleblower, for filing my complaint," Dale wrote.

Since then, Dale said he has been demoted and has had to subject Flores to an inquiry by Paschall, as well as being subjected to an internal investigation regarding social media policy that occurred on Nov. 9, "which is unprecedented from past violations of this policy, and after Chief Paschall advised initially there would be no investigation and he would not look into it."

Dale then writes that "it has come to my attention Chief Paschall and his wife are good friends with Commissioner Tetreau which might suggest ulterior motives."

Dale said he has filed a complaint against Paschall and that Paschall is aware of another complaint Dale is filing against him. He also accuses Paschall of making false claims that Dale threatened him to subordinates.

"I believe these actions are politically motivated as to the process of selecting the new police chief," Dale wrote.

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com

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