Sergeant Jerry Reyna from the Frio County Sheriff’s Department will take over the Dilley police department in less than two weeks.
The city of Dilley interviewed four police chief applicants on the evening of December 20th, 2016 and unanimously voted to hire Sergeant Jerry Reyna of the Frio County Sheriff’s Department. Reyna will replace Sheriff-elect Albert DeLeon who takes office at the county at midnight January 1st, 2017.
Reyna will take over a police department whose identity has been in flux in recent months due to hiring challenges and questions over the existence of the department itself. In July, Chief DeLeon proposed to the Frio County Commissioners Court a “consolidation” of law enforcement departments, which would have effectively dissolved Dilley’s police force. DeLeon explained to local newspaper Frio-Nueces Current that his appearance before the Commissioners Court was planned by the city of Dilley, but in Dilley’s subsequent city council meeting, the police chief was thrown no such lifeline.
“If these conversations are going to occur, they should start here at the city council meetings,” said Dilley city attorney Bobby Maldonado at the August 9th meeting. During the discussion, the city council marched one step further to emphasize the importance of public input and transparency in such a decision. In response, DeLeon pitched the idea of a town hall meeting to directly involve Dilley residents. The city appeared to agree and voted to schedule the public event. However, the meeting was never held, and the topic of dissolving the police department was never mentioned again by the city council.
City Administrator Noel Perez points out that he did not hold his position at the time of those meetings, but explains the Dilley police force could be downsized when Reyna takes office in January. “According to the council, I’m sure they would want it downsized,” he said. “Downsized in the sense that the county would help us more. We could save $300,000 by downsizing and get the help we need from the county. I think that we will always have a local department with a local chief, local sergeant, local patrolmen.”
Currently, the police force is considered fully staffed with nine policemen plus the chief. However, when Reyna takes over in 9 days, the number of Dilley policemen will be drastically lower.
“We’re going to be left with, as far as I know, the new Chief and two officers, perhaps one more,” said Perez. The number of new officers that will be hired depends on what Frio County pledges to support the Dilley area. “This city pays at least half a million dollars to our county, so what do we get for that?” Perez asked.
Shaping the future of the Dilley police department will be a tall order for Sergeant Reyna who has twenty years’ experience at Frio County. As the size Dilley police department expands and contracts at the whims of the world oil market, the position of police chief has not been a model of stability. Reyna will be the fourth police chief in the eight years since Mayor Mary Ann Obregon took office during her current tenure. Perez said, “I hope that this one is here to stay for a while. For a small community, we need the chief to stay.”