MISSION – The Peñitas mayor pro tem tested positive for cocaine while working as a Mission police officer in June, according to drug test results obtained by The Monitor.
Jose Gonzalez tested positive for cocaine use on June 25 in a test conducted after a car accident, according to the drug test results received through a public information request.
The positive toxicology results came into the police department on June 29. Gonzalez was immediately suspended without pay and then resigned on July 3, according to city documents and Mission Police Chief Martin Garza.
In his resignation letter, Gonzalez wrote that he was leaving “to further my education. I have different ambitions and goals at this point for myself and my family.”
Gonzalez did not return calls for comment on Friday. But in a July interview before The Monitor received the toxicology results, Gonzalez said he left the police department for personal reasons and the information about a failed drug test was a rumor.
FUTURE WITH CITY UNKNOWN
Peñitas city leaders, who were reached Friday, said they were unaware of the positive drug test.
Gonzalez’s future on the Peñitas City Council is unknown.
“It’s up to the mayor and the Council to decide what direction they want to take,” said City Manager Noe Cavazos.
City Manager Noe Cavazos said he has not received a resignation letter from Gonzalez, but the mayor might have. The mayor could not be reached Friday.
"He's a good guy, but I have no other comments,” said City Councilman Tony Flores when he learned of the test results.
AFTER WRECK, A MANDATORY TEST
Mission’s Risk Management Office requires that employees submit to a drug test following any type of wreck, however minor, in a city-owned vehicle, Garza said.
On June 25, Gonzalez was driving a city vehicle when struck a parked vehicle belonging to another city employee causing minor damage, Garza said.
“This administration took immediate action upon receiving the results,” Garza said. “I suspended Mr. Gonzalez without pay pending the results of an in-depth investigation.”
Four days later, Gonzalez resigned before the investigation was completed.
The Monitor sent a public information request to the City of Mission for the drug test results and Gonzalez’s letter of resignation on July 10. The city declined to fill the request and sent the case to the Texas Attorney General, which is standard procedure when a governmental entity claims records are not public. The Attorney General ruled in The Monitor’s favor and the city released the results this week.
“That information is handled by our Risk Management Office, they keep those results with the employee’s medical records,” Garza said. “That is why we needed to make sure we could release the results before doing so.”
Jose Gonzalez had worked with the Mission Police Department since November 12, 1998. His file with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers, Standards and Education doesn’t list any disciplinary actions. Gonzalez also worked at a police officer for the cities of Hidalgo and La Joya, and as a reserve deputy in the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office.
Gail Burkhardt covers Mission, western Hidalgo County, Starr County and general assignments for The Monitor. She can be reached at (956) 683-4462 and firstname.lastname@example.org.