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Cuero names new police chief

By Sonny Long
Jan. 3, 2011 at 3:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 2, 2011 at 7:03 p.m.

Jay Lewis

NEW CHIEF'S CREDENTIALSThe work history of Jay Lewis, who has been hired as the new police chief in Cuero.

April 2009-Current- Detective, Port Lavaca Police Department

July-December 2008 - Safety compliance officer, Ranger Oilfield Services

July 2000-November 2007- Chief Deputy, DeWitt County Sheriff's Office

May 1990-February 2000 - Detective, Friendswood Police Department

1988-1990 - Patrol Office, Jacksonville Police Department

1984-1988 - Chief of Police, Berryville Police Department

1972-1984 - Sergeant, Warrant Division Supervisor, Galveston County Sheriff's Office

CUERO - Jay Lewis, a detective with the Port Lavaca Police Department and former chief deputy with the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office, has been named the new police chief in Cuero.

"I live here. I love Cuero," he said. "It sounds like a cliche, but I just want to give back to the community."

City Manager Raymie Zella made the announcement during a brief news conference Monday morning at Cuero city hall.

Noting that several Cuero police officers were also assembled for the announcement, Lewis said, "I am extremely proud to be able to serve with these guys and look forward to getting started."

WORK TO DO

Lewis said his first priority will be evaluating the department.

"First business is to sit down and go over the department, assess everything. Evaluate the entire operation," he said. "I don't anticipate any changes, really. Work on the areas we need to work on."

Lewis, 60, agrees that one area that may need some attention is the amount of gun violence in Cuero.

"Each situation is a little different," he said. "There's feuds between families; there's feuds between criminal elements. It's something you have to work with on an individual basis."

"We as a police department can work toward trying to cement relationships between the community and law enforcement," he said. "If we can do something to regain the confidence of the citizens, open up the lines of communication a little more, perhaps we can learn about some of these conflicts before they boil over and try to work toward a peaceful resolution rather than the conflicts that have shown up in the past."

DEPARTMENTAL COOPERATION

Lewis, who was the chief deputy in the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office from July 2000 until November 2007 when he was let go after deciding to run for sheriff, said he anticipates working closely with Sheriff Jode Zavesky.

"I am looking forward to working with Jode. I don't anticipate any problems," he said. "The timing wasn't right for me to be sheriff. The timing is right for me to be in this position, and I am happy with it."

Zavesky agreed.

"Once Jay gets settled in, I look forward to meeting with him so that we can discuss our plans to work together," Zavesky said.

HIRING PROCESS

During the announcement, Zella noted Lewis' impressive credentials.

"Jay's record and resume speaks for itself with more than 32 years in law enforcement and 2,840 training hours," Zella said. "Jay has been involved in every aspect of law enforcement. Jay also teaches law enforcement at Victoria College, and he and his wife reside in Cuero."

"Jay's experience and knowledge of law enforcement is the main reason I chose him as the next chief for the city of Cuero, and I am looking forward to working with him."

Zella said a committee of five reviewed the 47 applications for the position, narrowing the search to 15 and then to four.

"Two days were spent interviewing the (four) applicants," said Zella. "After all of the interviews, the committee gave me their choices one by one. All five committee members unanimously selected the final two applicants for me to choose from."

Luis Soler, a corporal with the Austin Police Department, was the other finalist.

The final two were interviewed by the Cuero Police Department captain, lieutenant and sergeant.

Zella said he took the information from the police department interviews, committee recommendations and resumes into consideration when making his selection.

The position was left vacant when Chris Hernandez resigned in September.

Hernandez served as interim chief for 16 months until September 2009 when he was named the permanent replacement for former chief Glenn Mutchler who retired in July 2008.

Lewis will begin his duties on Monday and will be sworn in at the Cuero City Council meeting the next day.

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