Retired Officer: Don't be Impressed with a Smooth Talker in Chief Race


OPINION – Voters in San Angelo will elect a new Chief of Police in May 2024.  There are three candidates running for the office.  San Angelo is the only remaining city in Texas that still elects a Chief of Police.  The Opinion letter below was written and submitted by retired SAPD Sgt. John Rodriguez.  San Angelo LIVE! encourages and publishes endorsement letters in all elections.  

San Angelo LIVE! is hosting a Candidate Forum/Debate Monday evening, March 18, 2024 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Sugg room on the 3rd floor of the Stephens Central Library downtown.  The event is open to the public.   

Here we go again San Angelo.  Time to chooser a Police Chief.  I know everyone believes that they are the best judge of who should lead the department, but do you really know that for sure? How well have we done in the past? What exactly does it take to run your Police Department?

Most of what I have heard for many years is, "Oh, I know him, he's a nice guy."

San Angelo, is that really the basis we should be electing someone to lead 200+ employees and run a million dollar corporation? That's what your Police Department is!

Allow me to ask you to look at the candidates in a different way.  I worked for six or seven Chiefs in my 32 years of active service with the SAPD, and all of them were good people, but honestly, not one of them was truly 'qualified' to run the department.  If we continue to elect a Chief, let's put some effort into picking someone who will truly lead the department. 

This time do some homework on the candidates.  Look at their social media and see what they have to say.  Go to forums and listen to them speak.  Are they telling you what you want to hear or are they pointing out problems and coming up with actual solutions?  Do they want to improve the department, or will they leave things mostly as they are?  

For years, we've heard that candidates want to improve things, but seldom have things changed. And once elected, how do you, the voting public, know if changes have really been made? How many past Chiefs have kept their political promises, or even one promise?

Don't be impressed with a smooth talker.  We went through 12 years of that some years ago, despite the fact that many officers within the department asked the public not to elect him.  Let's not do that once again. 

If you know an officer, or know someone who does, ask questions.  How was each candidate as an officer, as a supervisor?  What have they done as a supervisor to improve their shift, division?  Who do they, the officers, think will do the best job for the department?

And who stands to benefit from each candidate being elected?  Who is financially or otherwise backing each candidate? Is it the majority of people or is it mostly just a few 'influential' people? Because many of those people backed a chief for 12 years and look how well that worked out for us!  For many years, many of us did our jobs but we also had to do what called 'political policing.'  Someone who backed the Chief in one way or another needed some special attention and we were sent to 'handle' the problem.  Will this sort of thing happen again?  Is that what San Angelo needs?

If things are stagnant in any organization, things need to be changed.  The same is absolutely true for your Police Department.  When you speak to a police officer, ask them in which division they work.  One candidate wants to rotate a certain number of people out of certain divisions, Criminal Investigations and narcotics in particular.  That will not be very popular with some people who will be affected by that decision. 

For years, even before I was hired, some officers moved into a division and took up root!  Their chairs were custom fitted to them because they had been there for years and years.  How motivated is someone who is in a particular division and simply doesn't want to move just because they don't want to go back to shift work?  Shift work is where everyone started.  Sometimes one needs to go back to our roots to find themselves again to find their motivation again. 

San Angelo, make this election more than a popularity contest.  Look at all the candidates, ask questions and make an informed decision based on qualifications, policies and true leadership, and don't make it just about voting for a 'nice guy.'

John E. Rodriguez

Retired SAPD Sgt. 

Subscribe to the LIVE! Daily

The LIVE! Daily is the "newspaper to your email" for San Angelo. Each content-packed edition has weather, the popular Top of the Email opinion and rumor mill column, news around the state of Texas, news around west Texas, the latest news stories from San Angelo LIVE!, events, and the most recent obituaries. The bottom of the email contains the most recent rants and comments. The LIVE! daily is emailed 5 days per week. On Sundays, subscribers receive the West Texas Real Estate LIVE! email.


Most Recent Videos

Post a comment to this article here:

X Close