New Alamo police chief to stress community policing

ALAMO — The city of Alamo will soon have a new police chief in town.

Sullivan City Police Chief Ricardo Ozuna will assume the reins of the Alamo Police Department on Monday, March 16.

The new chief said that among his goals going into his new job include creating a positive relationship with the community through officer outreach as well as social media, which is something he accomplished as chief of police in Sullivan City.

Ozuna began his career in law enforcement immediately after graduating from high school in 1984, when he was hired as a jailer at the Hidalgo County jail. A few years later, Ozuna became a deputy and completed the police academy in 1987.

He would spend most of his career with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, working various positions including special operations unit, K-9 handler, narcotics, investigations and burglary auto theft.

Ozuna became a sergeant in 1994, and he was then promoted to lieutenant in 2006. It was at this time that Ozuna’s duties became more administrative.

“I was in charge of fixing all the budgets, the procurement, the grants, motor pull, the maintenance department at the jail,” Ozuna recalled.

He was promoted to captain in 2012 and retired in February 2016. Ozuna’s retirement was short-lived, however, as he remained a reserve officer with the sheriff’s office.

Soon after, he found work as a project coordinator for a local construction company, and later got the job as police chief in Sullivan City.

“The position of police chief came about, and that’s pretty much been my goal: to be a chief,” Ozuna said. “I applied in Sullivan. I became the chief of police there in July of 2016. Within my three-and-a-half year tenure here, within the first year, they made me the emergency management coordinator, and then the interim city manager.”

The new chief said that it’s always been about moving to a larger agency and department for him, which is a challenge that he looks forward to.

“There are fine men and women who are police officers there with that agency, and it’s a bigger size, bigger community, so you move up, you don’t go back down,” Ozuna said. “I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it.”

Ozuna said he anticipates gaining the trust and reaching out to the people of the community.

“I’m more of a public relations type person. I’m very community oriented,” Ozuna said. “It’s back to the basics. It’s your officers getting off the cars and talking to the people, gaining their trust.”

Ozuna added: “Don’t you remember when you were a child and playing outside in the front yard, and a police officer or the fire department would come by? What’s the first thing, as a kid, that you would do? You’d run to the street and tell them to turn on their lights or their siren. That’s where it starts. It’s community policing. … At the end, what everybody wants is a better quality of life.”

Ozuna takes over a position amid some controversy regarding the firing of former Alamo Police Chief Baudelio Castillo.

Castillo was fired by the Alamo Board of Commissioners on Monday, May 20, during a special meeting. Castillo had said his dismissal came after he had opened investigations into various city employees and top officials.

Sgts. Roy Alaniz and Saul Solis were appointed as interim police chiefs during the same meeting.

Ozuna said that he was not very familiar with the details regarding the former police chief, but he said that his goals still remain focused on making the police department better.

“I’m very proud of the men and women of this police force because they’re out there every day,” Ozuna said. “It just makes you feel so proud, the department and where it’s going.”