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Palmview hires new police chief

The city of Palmview hired a new police chief on Tuesday.

After reviewing more than 20 applications and conducting two rounds of interviews, Palmview hired Jose M. Trevino, the director of campus safety and security for a community college in Port Arthur, on Tuesday night.

“All the aspects that we were looking for, he fits the bill,” said City Manager Michael Leo. “So he became our top choice.”

More than 20 people applied for the job.

Palmview created a committee — Leo, Chief of Staff Irma Garza and Human Resources Director Gerardo Villarreal — to review the applications. They interviewed five candidates and selected two finalists, who returned for a second round of interviews.

Jose M. Trevino. (Photo by Dave Hendricks / The Progress Times.)

Leo said that Treviño’s experience and education impressed the committee.

Treviño worked for the San Juan Police Department from 2003 to 2012, when he accepted a job with the University of Texas-Pan American, according to a resume he provided to Palmview. In 2014, he left the Rio Grande Valley for Beaumont.

After working for a series of small law enforcement agencies, Treviño became the director of campus safety and security for Lamar State College Port Arthur.

Along the way, Treviño earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and started working on a master’s degree in public administration.

“My time was done where I was at. I was over there for almost nine years,” Treviño said. “And not just for myself but for my family. It was time to come back home.”

Treviño said he decided to apply for the position because Palmview is a progressive city.

“And I consider myself a progressive person,” Treviño said. “I am very happy and humbled to be a part of this organization.”

The city, meanwhile, wanted a police chief who could change the culture of the department.

Palmview fired police Chief Chris Barrera in April 2018 after he sent a series of homophobic text messages to another city employee.

More questions about the professionalism and integrity of the department surfaced that November during the trial of a former dispatcher who had been charged with murder. Prosecutors said the department apparently “misplaced” evidence and suggested an investigator had made comments about tanking the case.

The city replaced Barrera with Gilberto Zamora.

Palmview suspended Zamora in 2021 after an internal investigation concluded he purchased trucks from a dealership where his son worked.

Zamora, however, denied any wrongdoing. He accused City Councilman Joel Garcia of attempting to use the police department for political purposes.

Palmview approved a $45,000 severance package for Zamora in July.

“We want to go in a different direction,” Leo said. “In a positive direction.”

Palmview wants to boost morale, bring in a chief with new ideas and properly compensate officers, Leo said, which may reduce turnover. The city also plans to emphasize community policing and engagement.

“We wanted somebody, also, that knows the culture — because he’s from here, he’s from the Valley originally — but no ties with anybody politically,” said Mayor Rick Villarreal. “We want somebody that’s good, clean, unattached. Going to come in and just run the department.”

Treviño is scheduled to start on Dec. 5.

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