PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — Pflugerville city leaders approved a severance and release agreement for Police Chief Jessica Robledo during a regularly-scheduled city council meeting Tuesday.
KXAN’s Kaitlyn Karmout reached out to several current and former Pflugerville police officers to get a better understanding of what led to the resignation. All said Robledo created a toxic and hostile work environment, though an actual reason has not yet been identified.
“We had some decent positive changes thanks to the chief honestly, but I would say the negativity and the toxicity that ran rampant throughout the department outweighed the positivity that we saw,” said a current Pflugerville police officer.
Robledo has led the Pflugerville Police Department since 2017. Prior to that, she was an Austin police officer for 30 years.
“With the energy Chief Robledo brought to Pflugerville, when I met her I told people she reminded me of ‘pop rocks’ candy, because her energy level never faltered,” Mayor Victor Gonzales said. “Chief enhanced our community engagement and grew our police department. We wish her well.”
Chief Robledo commented on her retirement early Wednesday morning on Twitter.
“Four years ago, I came out of retirement to answer the call to serve this amazing community as your Chief,” Robledo said. “As I transition to another chapter of my life, I am thankful to the people of Pflugerville, Mayor Gonzales and Council for this honor. Love you PF!”
According to a posted agenda item, council members discussed Robledo’s resignation, severance and release agreement during executive session. The details of the severance agreement were not made public.
Former commander: ‘Officers were terrified of her’
Former Sgt. Kevin Reiff, who received a dishonorable discharge under Robledo after 22 years as an officer and nine years working for Pflugerville Police, said he was one of a number of officers fired.
“You can’t disagree with her. If you do disagree with her, then you are ran out of there. It happened to a commander, it happened to a lieutenant,” Reiff said.
Other former officers say they were faced with the decision to resign under Robledo’s watch.
“She had a great public persona, but behind the scenes the officers were terrified of her,” said a former commander. “People lost their jobs, and their jobs were being threatened.”
City Manager: Robledo had a ‘servant heart’
Pflugerville City Manager Sereniah Breland, however, spoke highly of Robledo, saying she helped “grow future leaders with a servant heart.”
“While our chief is entering her next chapter of life, she has left a legacy for this department. I know we can count and rely upon PPD to continue providing an excellent level of service to our community. We thank Chief Robledo for her service to Pflugerville,” Breland said.
According to a release, Robledo was recognized in March 2019 as a Woman of Distinction by the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce and was named as an executive committee member of the Interagency Sexual Assault Team in April 2019.
Assistant Chief Jason Smith will be acting chief until an interim is selected. The next step is to prepare for a nationwide search for the next chief.