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20111230_MissionPoliceChiefMISSION — Assistant Police Chief Martin Garza said this week that he is ready to serve the City of Mission; Garza will be serving as the interim police chief until someone is put in the position permanently.

“I feel privileged and blessed, but more than anything, I’m humbled,” said Garza about the opportunity, adding that he is happy to continue running the Mission Police Department and assist the city through the transition of final appointment of a new police chief. “I’m ready to serve.”

Garza, a Mission native, has been with the MPD for nearly 20 years. He began as a patrolman in 1992.

He has also worked as an investigator for nine years where he went from corporal to lieutenant, as well as a supervisor for investigations for the special crimes unit, a Crime Stopper coordinator, internal affairs investigator and a public information officer for recently retired Police Chief Leo Longoria.

“I’ve seen a lot,” he said of his 20 years with the department and working with Longoria.

After graduating from high school, Garza went to Laredo to study to become a dentist. He changed his mind after his first year and said he doesn’t regret it at all.

“I enjoy what I do,” said Garza. “My favorite part of the job is to be able to assist the public and be able to address concerns in different areas of town that I believe the police department can assist with.”

Garza has an associate degree in law enforcement that he earned from Laredo Junior College (now Laredo Community College). He also obtained a four-year degree from the University of Texas-Pan American in police administration.

A father of four boys, ages 5 to 15, Garza said his family is excited about this opportunity and understand the importance of the position because it has been a part of their lifestyle, especially the past three years. He said as the assistant chief he felt it was his duty to be at all major incidents, even if it was at 2 a.m.

During the last three years, Garza has served as the assistant police chief allowing him to be a part of every division in the department from patrol and SWAT to task force and bridge operations. He has also been able to learn other aspects of law enforcement through the partnerships the department has with other law enforcement bureaus.

Garza said his style is very traditional. He likes the use of watch programs, partnerships with the community and businesses, and working together with other agencies including with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

“I want to continue being an approachable figure to the community,” said Garza, adding that he wants to keep the trust of the community. “We are going to continue being a transparent police department.”

Garza said his love for serving the community plays a vital role in his enthusiasm for the job. His former boss sees it, as well.

“Martin is an ideal person,” said Longoria about Garza’s appointment to the position. “He’s a good man. He’s got a very strong sense of love for the community.”

Longoria said that the city could have gone anywhere to pick an interim police chief, but it’s very hard to find a person that has the love and compassion for the people.

Longoria first met Garza when Garza was 16 and was working at McDonald’s. He also remembers when Garza was new to the department, covering his first homicide case.

Longoria said the department has been a leader in law enforcement locally and in the state and thinks Garza will go beyond those levels.

Mission City Manager Julio Cerda selected Garza as the new interim police chief because of the experience he already has within the city and its police department.

“He has plenty of experience with the local community and business owners and by being a Missionite,” Cerda said of Garza's qualifications. “He's basically groomed himself for this job.

“I'm excited to see what he does. He's going to do a good job for us. He'll take care of business for Mission and I know he'll take the bull by the horns.”

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