New acting Socorro police chief named after prior chief resigns; investigation underway
EL PASO, Texas (CBS4) —
The city of Socorro has a new acting police chief, after the previous chief suddenly resigned, and the city has now launched an internal affairs investigation.
Jasiel Munoz is now the acting police chief after Carlos Maldonado resigned.
CBS4 broke the story last week that Maldonado suddenly resigned after being with the department since 2014.
The city said the previous chief submitted a very brief resignation letter that gave no reason as to why he was leaving. The mayor, Elia Garcia, said Monday that it was very sudden and city officials weren’t expecting the resignation.
This comes shortly after a video was leaked showing a traffic stop between police and City Manager Adriana Rodarte's son. In the leaked video, her son admits to having had two beers, and the police officer finds white powder, which tested positive as cocaine, on the son's nose. He was not arrested, and the officer called Rodarte to pick him up.
Reporter Ashley Claster asked what exactly the city is investigating — how the video of City Manager Adriana Rodarte’s son’s traffic stop was leaked, why Maldonado resigned or whether there was preferential treatment given to Rodarte’s son. Garcia said the the city is limited in what it can disclose at this time to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
“As soon as we have the results, we will be able to process those results when the time is right,” Garcia said. “Unfortunately, right now, we can’t give any details. We ask that they continue to have confidence in our Police Department. Jasiel Munoz has been working with the department for numerous years and he understands the needs of the constituents.”
Socorro residents we spoke with said they don't trust the city or the Soccoro Police Department anymore.
"All of the representatives are all corrupted, starting with the city manager, the mayor who used to be the judge before in Socorro. She was involved in corruption with Chief Maldonado,” said resident Pilo Morales, who has lived in Socorro for 78 years.
Other residents we spoke with said it isn't fair that Rodarte's son got off easy, when police are strict with others, such as Horizon resident Jesus Ramirez’s mother, who was recently arrested for DWI.
"He told her she was swerving, pulled her over. He told her automatically that she was arrested. She didn't get to do anything else,” Ramirez said.
"I don't know them. The only thing I can say is: No matter who they are, if they had been drinking or doing drugs and driving, they should have the same repercussions as anybody else,” said Socorro resident Aracely Simental.
Right now, there’s no outside investigation into what happened. Only people on the city’s payroll will be looking into this issue.
The new acting police chief and Rodarte were not allowed to speak to the media Monday at a press conference announcing the investigation. Only the mayor spoke.
The mayor said there’s no timeline on when this investigation will be complete.
“Unfortunately ,we don’t have an exact timeline. We are handling it with the utmost care that we can,” Garcia said. “We don’t want to rush it. We don’t want to mishandle any information. So all I can say is that we are doing our best to handle this investigation in a timely manner.”
When asked whether constituents would trust an outside investigation over an internal affairs investigation, the mayor said, “Right now, we have appointed Munoz to be our chief administrator. He has the experience working here within our Police Department. When the investigation is complete, at that point, we'll go ahead and decide what is the best step to take.”
Claster asked Garcia whether this will affect the renewal of Rodarte's employment contract as city manager. The mayor said it's too early to determine what will happen with that contract but, right now, it has been renewed.