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Victoria officer hired as Port Lavaca police chief

By Melissa Crowe
March 14, 2012 at 6:02 p.m.
Updated March 13, 2012 at 10:14 p.m.

James Martinez

Port Lavaca City Council unanimously approved hiring a Victoria lawman this week as their new police chief.

James Martinez, 41, who serves as Victoria College's Police Academy director, beat out 33 other candidates for the position, which had been open since the former-chief, John Stewart, retired in August.

Port Lavaca City Manager Bob Turner said Martinez was the best candidate and right fit for the city.

Turner said he, the finance director and the current police/fire chief evaluated the 34 candidates based on their pre-interview, the resume and application portion; post-interview, which included a case study review; and a meet-and-greet with the community.

"James Martinez, on the whole, did the best job of all the applicants," Turner said.

Martinez said he is excited about going to work with the young department and the Port Lavaca management team.

His first day in Port Lavaca will be April 9.

Martinez already has high goals for the department.

"One of the things I'd like to do is have our agency recognized by the Texas Police Chief Association through the Best Practices Recognition Program," he said.

The association is an accrediting body that ensures police departments operate at a high standard, Martinez said.

To reach that level will take some work, he said.

"It's going to take a revamping of their policies and procedures, and that's just the beginning," Martinez said.

He said he also wants to update how officers handle situations to take "a more progressive approach."

"I am fortunate because we have a good group of officers who want to work hard," Martinez said. "I remain hopeful that the people there who work within the Port Lavaca Police Department are as excited as I am."

Turner said he has three goals in mind for the new police chief: encourage community-oriented policing, create a partnership with the district attorney's office and be more involved in the local school district.

"We're still encouraging our citizens to contact the chief and get to know him," Turner said.

Martinez's career started in 1994 with the Victoria Police Department, where he rose to the rank of special assignment lieutenant.

His next career move took him to Victoria College, where he served as director of the police academy and public service coordinator. Martinez also served as 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 a graduate of the Victoria College Regional Police Academy, the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas and the FBI National Academy.

Whether Martinez remains involved in the Victoria College Police Academy will be up to his replacement.

"I've been there seven years and we've had a lot of support from the administration, that's why we've been so successful," Martinez said. "My hope is, that as I wrap things up, I believe we're in a position to hand that off to someone new who can raise it (the academy) to a whole new level."

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