MERCEDES — The city of Mercedes officially welcomed its new police chief, Dagoberto “Dago” Chavez, at a public swearing in ceremony at city hall Thursday afternoon.
The ceremony was a veritable who’s who of local, state and federal law enforcement officers as the city commission chamber filled to capacity minutes before the ceremony was set to commence.
Local radio deejay Sam Daily emceed the event, introducing several speakers who congratulated Chavez on his new appointment.
First to speak was Mercedes Mayor Henry Hinojosa, who said Chavez will be leading the police department in new directions. “We will be taking a fresh new approach, active approach to policing our community, to making sure that all our citizens — especially our children — are much, much safer,” Hinojosa said.
“And this is the man I strongly feel will be able to carry that out,” the mayor continued.
City Manager Sergio Zavala spoke next. As a city manager-run municipality, the appointment of a new police chief was solely Zavala’s responsibility, he explained. “There’s an immediate respect for this man. There’s a leadership quality — those of you that know, know what I’m talking about,” Zavala said.
Initially, Zavala hired Chavez several months ago to serve as assistant city manager — a role Chavez will continue to fill even as he assumes the duties of all the city’s public safety departments.
Zavala extolled Chavez for his character, faith and heart. “I’m grateful to have such a gentleman of this caliber, intelligence and integrity to take this office,” he said.
Those qualities were something Hidalgo County Emergency Management Coordinator Rick Saldaña mentioned in his comments a few moments later.
Saldaña said the two first met when Chavez was a “rookie cop” in Mission. The pair became fast friends. “Now I have the honor to see a good friend of the family and a good personal friend of mine be sworn in as police chief of the city of Mercedes. Dago, congratulations,” Saldaña said.
Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra praised Chavez for being a team player, always supporting his fellow officers. “He’s the first one to always give credit to the individuals that he works with,” Guerra said.
“I want to congratulate you Dago and … as long as I’m sheriff you’ll have a friend at the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office,” Guerra said.
But perhaps the most poignant congratulations came from Oneida “Oni” Duberney, Region 3 administrator for the Texas Attorney General’s Office and Chavez’s supervisor during his time there.
“I hope I can contain my tears,” Duberney began.
“Dago’s father, he was my partner back in the day as a federal marshal when (Chavez) was just a kid,” she said, adding that Chavez has been part of her family and of her “heart for a very, very long time.”
Duberney also quipped that she is Chavez’s only supervisor to have had the opportunity to hire him three times, beginning when he was a 23-year-old child support law enforcement officer.
Chavez later worked his way up the ranks to senior investigator.
When Chavez called to tell Duberney of the new opportunity in Mercedes, it was bittersweet, but she gave him a piece of advice. “This is your opportunity to go out there and do what you know best,” she said.
Duberney added that Chavez has all the qualities needed to be a great leader, adding that he is committed to always doing the right thing and putting others before himself.
Moments later, Chavez took the oath of office, administered by Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo “Ric” Rodriguez.
Afterwards, Chavez stood for photographs and greeted the dozens of law enforcement officers, public officials and local residents who turned out for the ceremony.
Chavez said he was grateful for the outpouring of support, particularly from the law enforcement community. “I really appreciate the support of all the municipal, state, county, federal agencies,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with every single one of them for the betterment of this community.”
And already, big changes are afoot within the department. Chavez explained the department will be moving to a different facility soon, and that officers will also benefit from the addition of several new patrol vehicles.
“I’m just very excited to be in this city and I’m excited about the support that I’m getting from the community. And good things are gonna happen here in the city of Mercedes,” Chavez said.