Edinburg PD places officer, city council candidate on leave day before retirement

The Edinburg Police Department placed city council candidate David White on administrative leave with pay on his last official day as an officer for campaigning at a retirement event held for him.

White, who was a lieutenant with the department, is running for the Place 4 seat on the council against Edinburg Mayor Pro-Tem David Torres.

White previously served as chief before being demoted in November 2018 by Edinburg City Manager Juan Guerra, who determined White’s performance was “unsatisfactory” based on public safety rankings found on websites like wallethub.com.

The demotion was one of Guerra’s first moves as city manager, according to previous reporting.

A letter dated Oct. 28, 2019, from Chief Cesar Torres tells White that the administrative leave with pay is effective immediately, and that he is not to return to the police department.

The date is likely a mistake, as October just started.

The Edinburg Police Department confirmed White was placed on administrative leave with pay for what was supposed to be his last day at work, Sept. 30.

“The reprimand is based on your obvious intentional decision to make a political campaign solicitation for yourself at a Police Department function that was intended to be a recognition of your service and your departure,” Chief Torres wrote. “During the event, which occurred on Friday, September 27, 2019, during working hours at the Department, and while you were still in uniform, you included in your comments to all personnel present a political campaign statement urging law enforcement personnel to support your candidacy for political office in the City.”

A video of that event shows White speaking to officers about what he learned as an officer and included comments about serving the community.

At the tail-end of the video, which is just over a minute long, White mentions he is running for City Council.

“In saying that, my next endeavor in life is to run City Council so make sure you vote David White,” he says in the video while receiving applause from those in the room.

Chief Torres is standing next to White when he makes the comment and can be seen clapping and smiling.

White acknowledged the reprimand he received from Chief Torres when asked about it, but in a statement to The Monitor, he did not address the reprimand.

Rather, he reflected on the 28 years he worked as a police officer in Edinburg and said he now wants to be a voice for the community.

“Now, it’s with great honor and a bit of sadness that I retire from the Edinburg Police Department,” he said in the statement. “I want to thank the brave men and women who served alongside me during my career, the Edinburg communities who invited me in and embraced me as a member of your neighborhood, and last but not least, to my wonderful wife and kids, who stood by me through it all.”

As his professional career comes to an end, he says his work in Edinburg is just beginning.

“I am fully committed to protecting Edinburg, but instead of protecting you against criminals, I am dedicated to protecting your voice,” he said. “As I seek election to city council, I’d like to remind you all that the wellbeing and safety of our community will always be my top priority, and every action I lend my vote will be with the bright future of our community in mind.”