Alamo commissioners to weigh firing police chief

Alamo Police Chief Baudelio Castillo stands beside a truck seized during a drug bust made by the department's new K-9 unit Aug. 22, 2018. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

ALAMO — Less than a year after hiring a new police chief following the retirement of their longtime chief who died of cancer in February, the board of commissioners here may fire Chief Baudelio Castillo.

On the agenda for Tuesday’s commission meeting is an item for “consideration and action regarding the designating, appointment and/or removal of the chief of police,” and another item to appoint an interim chief.

Mayor Diana Martinez and Commissioner Robert De La Garza placed the item on the agenda, according to Mayor Pro-Tem Pete Morales.

“I don’t know why Mayor Martinez and Commissioner De La Garza placed our chief of police on the agenda for removal,” Morales said. “He has been doing a great job in our community. I guess we will all find out tomorrow and (see) if they can give the community and us an explanation for it.”

Martinez said she had no comment “since we haven’t acted on the agenda.”

“Let’s see what happens tomorrow,” she said.

De La Garza also declined to comment.

Castillo was hired Feb. 13 following the retirement of Arturo “Art” Espinoza, who died of prostate cancer two weeks later. Espinoza had served as the city’s police chief for 21 years.

“I can’t really discuss it,” Castillo said of the agenda item when reached for comment Monday. He noted, however, that he planned to hold a press conference following the meeting.

“I thank the community for the support they’ve been showing me,” he said. “My police department has shown full support on my behalf.”

Prior to being hired by the city of Alamo, Castillo served as La Villa police chief for five months. Before that, he worked for the Weslaco Police Department for 24 years, rising through the ranks to assistant police chief before his 2011 departure.

“In 10 months, I’ve taken this department to the next level in law enforcement,” Castillo said.

The department’s clearance rate has risen from 42 to 87 percent he said, and he has initiated Neighborhood Watch and Crime Stoppers programs, launched a bike patrol and added the first K-9 unit to the force.

Staff writer Naxiely Lopez-Puente contributed to this report.