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Victoria greets its new police chief

By Brian Cuaron
Aug. 15, 2011 at 3:15 a.m.

Jeff Craig is sworn in as Victoria's new police chief Monday during a ceremony at City Hall.

JEFF CRAIG BIO

Started as a patrol officer for the Long Beach Police Department in 1982.

Helped save a man's life during 1992 Los Angeles area riots.

Recognized in 1994 for leading SWAT team into burning building to rescue two hostages.

SWAT officer of the year in 1995.

LBPD officer of the year in 1996.

Promoted to deputy chief in 2006. Jim McDonnell, LBPD chief, credits Craig for helping bring Long Beach's crime to a 40-year low.

The men and women of the Victoria Police Department welcomed the man from Long Beach, Calif., as their new leader.

Jeff Craig, known as "JJ" back home, was sworn in as the city's new police chief Monday.

"We're going to call him 'JJ' here, too, because he's now a member of this family," City Manager Charmelle Garrett told the crowd of current and former officers, as well as city leaders.

The former SWAT officer, recognized for bravery on two occasions, possesses a broad breadth of experience, Garrett said. He also has a Texas native for a wife who helped him decide to leave the mild-weathered West Coast for the humidity of South Texas.

"To make a move from California to Texas is a big leap of faith," said Garrett, who thanked Craig's wife.

Craig later told the crowd that becoming the city's chief was the second-best decision he has made in his life, the first being marrying his wife.

The former deputy chief of the Long Beach Police Department said the city's officers had made him feel welcomed by inviting him out to lunch. He didn't get to take a bite of his food, though, as officers kept him busy with questions.

Getting to know the department's personnel, budget and challenges were Craig's top priorities, he later said.

His children were ready to join up with him and already had their suitcases by the door, Craig said.

"I'm part of the Victoria Police Department now," he added.

The department and city officials made sure to wipe away any doubts of that. The line stretched out toward the door with people wanting a quick word with Craig.

"You might as well come up here because a lot of these people are going to want to shake your hand," Garrett told Craig.

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