The city of Palmhurst means a golden sunset on a calm and quiet evening for Chief of Police Michael Vela. The 15-year resident has been with the police department since its inception in 2005 and seen the community grow from two-lane roads to a 23,000-person town.
Citizens of Palmhurst celebrated their fourth annual National Police Night Out Oct. 27. The event is meant to promote a partnership between law enforcement and community members. The local PD, border patrol, sheriff’s department and even Edinburg PD showed up to celebrate at the festival grounds.
“What makes this event possible is your heart and your families because you care for this community and you care for your families and you care for the children in this community,” State Representative Bobby Guerra said. “I live less than a mile from here, off Shary Road, and I’ve always been amazed by how this community comes together.”
The growing community means a growing police department, as well. Vela has seen the staff grow from four officers and a chief to 13 officers, with a 14th in the works. In addition, Palmhurst now has six of their own 24-7 dispatchers.
“We went from the Mayberry (small town) mentality to a full-blown police department,” Vela said. “There is some crime but nothing major, fortunately. We try to keep it low with high visibility and being in full force in the residential areas and commercial areas.”
Trying to keep the officer-count in tandem with the city growth has been difficult due to lack of funds, according to the chief. He said financial issues caused a period of hiring freezes in the last year, but the hold has been removed and he looks forward to new members on the force.
Chief Administrator Mona Ramirez Parras for Hidalgo County Precinct 3 recalled conversations from about 10 years ago between Commissioner Joe Flores and Mayor Ramiro Rodriguez. At the time, the two spoke of new projects, infrastructure and promoting the community to attract businesses.
In 2014, city officials broke ground for the shopping center on Mile 3. In July, they broke ground for the Applebee’s Bar & Grill, and Mayor Rodriguez also mentioned an incoming Panda Express and hopefully Taco Palenque.
“We have a great community here and a low crime rate,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve had a great 50 years of Palmhurst. We’ll have another future 50.”
The print version of this article misspelled Mona Ramirez Parras. It has been corrected online.