Breaking News
More () »

Coffee City police chief suspended after KHOU 11 Investigation | Part 4

Chief JohnJay Portillo was suspended for 30 days with pay pending an independent investigation.

HOUSTON, BC — The police chief of Coffee City, Texas, has been suspended in the wake of a KHOU 11 News investigation into the department.

The city council voted to suspend Chief JohnJay Portillo for 30 days with pay pending an independent investigation, according to Coffee City attorney Ronald Stutes.

In a series of stories, KHOU 11 Investigates revealed how the tiny town of barely 250 people has 50 sworn police officers on the force. Records show Portillo quadrupled the size of the department under his tenure and routinely hired cops who had been suspended, demoted, terminated, or dishonorably discharged from previous law enforcement jobs. Their prior disciplinary actions were for a wide range of misconduct that in some cases, included criminal charges.

RELATED: This Texas town has about 250 people. It has 50 sworn police officers. | Part 1

RELATED: Caught on camera: Small-town police chief goes on tirade | Part 2

RELATED: Coffee City Police Department suspends division after KHOU 11 Investigates questioned its legality | Part 3

Portillo also was caught on police body camera video launching a profanity-filled tirade against Harris County Precinct 2 Constable Jerry Garcia while Portillo was working an extra security job at a Houston apartment complex. Portillo asked deputy constables to file charges against a man he claimed assaulted him at the complex, but Garcia said the Harris County District Attorney’s office advised his agency that off-duty Coffee City officers would have to file their own charges.

KHOU 11 Investigates also reported how Portillo failed to disclose an active DWI charge out of Florida on his job application to become Coffee City’s police chief.

“I’m not, not being truthful,” Portillo previously said. “I just put down everything that was in my mind when I filled out my application to the best of my knowledge.”

The KHOU 11 investigation also revealed how Coffee City warrant officers didn’t even work in Coffee City. They stayed home in Houston, spending their time on the phone calling people with outstanding traffic warrants and collecting failure to appear fines. The warrant officers were paid for each court case cleared, but state law requires full-time officers to earn at least the federal minimum wage.

When KHOU 11 questioned Portillo about the legality of the program, he suspended the warrant division.

Reached by phone, Portillo had no comment about the 30-day suspension.

It is not the only shake-up in the Coffee City police ranks. Sgt. Cody Welch resigned from the department. Welch also declined to comment.

Jeremy Rogalski on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Before You Leave, Check This Out