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Three finalists selected for Port Lavaca police chief job

By by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
March 1, 2012 at 6:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 29, 2012 at 9:01 p.m.

Chris Aulbaugh

The search for a new police chief of Port Lavaca is down to the final three candidates.

The search for a new chief began after former chief John Stewart retired in August.

The three candidates, Chris Aulbaugh, James Martinez, and Derrick Watson recently visited with local officials and the public in the final phase of the interviewing process, Port Lavaca City Manager Bob Turner said.

"I'm looking for somebody who is community oriented," Turner said.

The search has been conducted by Turner, Port Lavaca Fire Chief Cleve Calagna, and City Finance Manager Scotty Jones .

They started with about 30 applicants in January before narrowing it down to 15 candidates. They interviewed the top five and are now down to the final three, Turner said.

Turner said they were looking for a candidate who ready to engage with the public. He said they want someone with previous experience and a proven commitment to being part of the community in addition to a protector of it.

All three candidates met this basic criteria and have experience in community outreach, Turner said.

Aulbaugh, of Waxahachie, started his law enforcement career with the Dallas Police Department in 1990. He is the administrative lieutenant and second in command of the special investigation unit in Dallas. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Administration in Criminal Justice degree from Mountain State University and a Master of Arts in Homeland Security from American Military University. He is a graduate of the Law Enforcement Management Institute, the Texas State Guard Initial Entry Training, Basic Officer Course and the Caruth Police Institute - Lieutenant Leadership Series.

"I've been in law enforcement for 26 years, 22 of them in Dallas, and I'm ready to lead my own department and have a positive effect on people as a chief," Aulbaugh said.

He noted that the welcoming nature of the coastal community has a lot of appeal for him and his family.

"I really have enjoyed both visits down there, getting to know the city and the people. It's just a very friendly warm environment," he said.

Martinez, of Victoria, started his career in the Victoria Police Department in 1994, rising to the rank of special assignment lieutenant. He is the Police Academy director and the public service coordinator at Victoria College. He is also the criminal justice coordinator and administrative captain for the Victoria College Police and Campus Safety Department. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and a Master of Interdisciplinary Studies concentrated in criminal justice and nonprofit leadership from the University of Houston-Victoria. He is also a graduate of the Victoria College Regional Police Academy, the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas and the FBI National Academy.

"I'm excited about the opportunity to be a part of the Port Lavaca Police Department because I know it's full of quality people that have a genuine desire to serve the people of Port Lavaca," Martinez said. "I'd be humbled by the opportunity to lead that group."

Watson also began his career in the Dallas Police Department in 1990. He moved to Coppell in 1994 and has been the police chief of the Double Oak Police Department since 2009.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from University of Montana. He is also a graduate of the Dallas Police Officer Academy, the FBI National Academy and the United States Officer Basic Course.

The job is a great opportunity from a law enforcement perspective, Watson said.

"It's a young department that needs to be developed, and I'm looking forward to bringing some of the skills from the experiences I've had in Dallas and Coppell to Port Lavaca," he said. "I love the coast. Port Lavaca has a lot of potential and I look forward to being a part of the community."

The committee will make a decision in the coming weeks, based on how the candidates performed during their interviews and written tests.

The city council could announce its decision in April, Turner said. The chosen candidate will start in May.

Turner said all three candidates have been involved in structural change in their law enforcement agencies and each has a lot to offer.

"There is very little separation between them at this point," Turner said.

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