Coffee City council fires police chief, deactivates police department in wake of investigation

Coffee City council fires police chief, deactivates police department in wake of investigation
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 6:45 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 11, 2023 at 11:16 PM CDT

COFFEE CITY, Texas (KLTV) - Coffee City held a city council meeting on Monday night to discuss an investigation into Chief Johnjay Portillo.

In the wake of the investigation, Portillo had proffered his resignation, but the city council rejected it, opting instead to fire him.

“It (the resignation) was not signed so technically it was not valid so we just figured it was in our best interest because that was going to be our initial plan, to go ahead and follow through with the termination.” said Coffee City Mayor, Jeff Blackstone.

The city council also voted to deactivate the police department. Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse and his office will answer calls for the city at this time, along with assistance from nearby constables and DPS.

Blackstone said, “I feel like going forward, we’re going to have a much better community. We’re going to have a new police department everybody in the community can trust and that is going to be working towards serving our community. We’re not trying to make money off of speeding tickets. We’re just trying to get people to be safe.”

Although, this decision did come with dissatisfaction among some residents who say they now feel unsafe with longer response times.

But the Henderson County Chief Deputy, Kevin Halbert said, “We’re going to answer the calls in order of priority. The most severe is going to be the quickest. But we will handle these calls like we do anywhere else in the county.”

However, others agreed with the termination.

“It definitely needed to happen. My concern is, what’s the repercussions of everything they did while they were on duty you know. There was plenty of things they did wrong that I don’t want to see them get away with.” said Coffee City resident, Roseanna Billings.

The Coffee City Council had suspended Chief Portillo on Sept. 6 for 30 days. The suspension came as an investigation was conducted into allegations that Portillo had allowed multiple officers to live in Houston while working remotely for the department. KHOU 11 originally reported that at least six of the department’s 50 officers were allowed to work remotely as part of a special warrant division. You can see the statement from the city’s mayor, Jeff Blackstone, below: