New Moulton police chief wants residents to know him

Sonny Long

Nov. 15, 2012 at 5:15 a.m.
Updated Nov. 16, 2012 at 5:16 a.m.

Mark Pritchard

Mark Pritchard

MOULTON - New Police Chief Mark Pritchard wants the people of Moulton to get to know him.

"My door is always open," he said. "You can call me 24 hours a day. That's part of being a small town police chief; you've got to be available to everybody all the time."

The 36-year-old Edinburg native knows the transition from long-time chief Mark Zimmerman will have its challenges.

"He was from here and chief here for more than 20 years, so everybody knew how he ran things," Pritchard said. "Because I am not from there and they don't know me, they are afraid to come up and talk to me. They don't know how I am going to react."

Pritchard brings more than 11 years of law enforcement experience to the position, having worked at police departments in Edinburg, Hidalgo and Alton.

He was the unanimous choice of the city council among 30 applicants for the position.

"I am looking forward to working closely with Chief Pritchard," said city administrator Deborah Pattison. "The city council is confident he's the right man to bring direction to the Moulton Police Department."

Moulton's size was one thing that attracted Pritchard to the position.

"The small town appeals to me," he said. "I wanted to find a place I could work law enforcement and not worry about getting shot at or blown up, as it was down in the Rio Grande Valley."

Pritchard plans to be visible in the community, especially among the youth.

"I want to do more school programs, get in touch with the kids," he said. "We need to let them know that the police are here to be someone they can trust, someone they can talk to.

"We're the good guys. Don't be afraid of us."

Pritchard said another area of emphasis will be drug interdiction on the roadways around Moulton.

"It's coming in; we've just got to catch it. When I hire some new guys, we're going to start working interdiction hard," said Pritchard, who began his duties Nov. 1.

With only one other full-time officer, Pritchard is working with the Moulton City Council to add another full-time position.

He also knows the importance of cooperation with other law enforcement agencies.

"I am not arrogant enough to think we can do everything ourselves," he said. "If I have something that's bigger than we can handle, I have no problem calling the sheriff's department, DPS or the Rangers - whoever we need to call.

"Likewise, if someone calls for backup, the standing order from me is 'go'," Pritchard added. "I don't have a problem working with anybody else. I don't have a problem with anyone coming in and helping us out. It's not an issue."

Pritchard's family - fiancee Norma Zelinger and her two sons, 11 and 10 - has joined him in Moulton.

"The school district here is exemplary, so my stepsons will have good schools to go to," Pritchard said.

As he gets to know Moulton and the people of Moulton get to know him, Pritchard re-emphasized his open-door policy.

"Come in and sit down and talk to me. Gripe. Complain. Do whatever you want," he said. "Just don't make assumptions about how I am going to run the department until you talk to me.

"I am firm, but fair. I may look like a grizzly bear, but I'm not."



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