For the last three months, Sgt. Enrique Saenz with the Alice Police Department has been on administrative leave with pay.
The 30-year veteran officer has been with the Alice PD since 2007 and is currently with the Criminal Investigative Division. He worked with the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Office and the Premont PD before he joined the Alice PD. In his time at the Alice PD, Saenz climbed the ranks and recently took the promotion test for a lieutenant position.
In March, he was escorted to the city hall and into the Human Resource Office where he was informed to turn over his badge and gun. He was then placed on administrative leave with pay.
According to Alice police Chief Aniceto “Cheto” Perez, Saenz was placed on administrative leave with pay for being a “distraction.” Perez would not elaborate on what “distraction” meant.
Saenz's administrative leave came the day after the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) investigated a breach in the Alice PD's (computer) system and several days after he filed a grievance against a fellow officer. However, according to Perez, Saenz's administrative leave has nothing to do with the FBI investigation or the grievance he filed against his fellow officer.
Still, Saen'z attorney claims the whole ordeal is leaving the department shorthanded and investigators overworked.
“Patrol is running short of officers,” said Saenz's CLEAT attorney, Celeste Robertson. “Enrique is not a patrol officer, but his absence gives other CID officers a larger work load...We have made attempts to meet with the city attorney's, but no meetings have happened.”
“We feel this is an attempt to get rid of (Saenz),” she stated. “They didn't give him a reason for the administrative leave.”
According to Robertson, the City of Alice and Perez did not follow proper protocol when placing Saenz on administrative leave as stated in Article 26: Temporary Suspensions in the collective bargaining labor agreement between the City of Alice and the Alice Police Officers' Association (APOA).
Saenz is also the president of the APOA and is still active in that position.
Saenz, who received the highest grade on the lieutenant promotion test, is “at home” collecting a check, for “no work,” from the city, Robertson said.
According to the collective bargaining labor agreement between the City of Alice and the Alice Police Officers' Association, the base pay for a sergeant in the department is $55,869.19. This pay does not include pay for degrees, law enforcement experience or seniority.
With just the base pay, Saenz receives approximately $4,300 a month and a total of nearly $13,000 over the last three months.
Alice City Manager Michael Esparza said that Perez is the “department head” and would determine when Saenz would return as an active member of the Alice PD.
Perez has “no date” of when Saenz will return to active duty. He stated that Saenz “is not under a criminal investigation,” but that he “needs to look at things very carefully.”