Wilson placed on unpaid administrative suspension following DWI Charge

Connie Swinney/Burnet Bulletin
Authorities impounded a Bertram police vehicle Oct. 24 after the unit was involved in a crash on FM 1431 east of Marble Falls.

 

 

 

Savanna Gregg

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

At an emergency City Council meeting called Thursday, Oct. 25, Bertram City Council members unanimously voted to place embattled Police Chief James Jay (“JJ”) Wilson on unpaid administrative suspension following his arrest for suspected driving while intoxicated after crashing and leaving his patrol unit along the 5000 Block of Ranch-to-Market 1431 outside Marble Falls on Wednesday, Oct. 24.

The Texas Department of Public Safety responded to the scene of the crash 8:30 p.m., and eventually arrested Wilson at Scott and White Hospital in Marble Falls, to which he had gotten a ride.

This incident occurred not a month after a 424th Judicial District Grand Jury indicted Wilson on charges of felony aggravated perjury, felony misuse of official information, and misdemeanor official oppression, according to court documents.

Bertram City Council’s decision came after hearing advice from City Attorney Michael Guevara, who emphasized there are many different aspects which come into play when faced with a situation such as this.

According to Guevara, the City of Bertram has a personnel policy they follow along with state laws.

“The different options that are available in the personnel policy as far as discipline could be probation, unpaid suspension, demotion, or termination,” Guevara said. “The only time we get into some type of administrative leave is when we have a recommendation for termination.

“At this point, my recommendation to the Council is to not recommend termination because even though this is the second arrest this month, we still don’t have a lot of information, there is no conviction, and (Wilson) has not pled guilty, so I think we need some time to look into that.”

Guevara also described discipline for peace officers according to Chapter 614 of the Government Code, which states that if an investigation is to be conducted, the City Mayor must first issue a complaint against the officer that could simply state that he was given information that Wilson was arrested for suspected DWI and the City will be conducting an investigation about the charge.

Section 023 of Chapter 614 states that an officer may not be suspended indefinitely or terminated until an investigation has been conducted and completed.

Guevara stated that since Wilson has not been convicted at this time, and the information with which they have been provided is “conjecture and rumor,” he recommended Council place Wilson on unpaid administrative suspension until at least the upcoming Nov. 13 City Council meeting, by which point they will have had more time to receive further information and discuss the future with Wilson.

“My recommendation would be to move forward and not make a final determination until the Council meeting we will have two weeks from now,” Guevara said.

Councilmember Jean Worrell made a motion to approve the recommendation, with a second from Councilmember Mike Dickinson. The motion passed unanimously among the Council.

“This is a pretty bad situation,” said Mayor Adam Warden. “But we’ve got to consider what’s important: (Wilson’s) health; he’s alive, which is good, but we’ve also got to protect our city.”

To fill Wilson’s position for the time being, Council voted to name Bertram Sergeant Talbert Booth as Interim Police Chief, his position effective immediately.

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