By Allan Jamail
Galena Park, TX. — June 12, 2018 — The City of Galena Park has hired their 3rd Chief of Police in two years. Hiring a 30 year Galena Park police veteran, Sergeant James Michael Knox was sworn in Friday, June 8th.
After serving only 4 months, retired 30 year Houston Police Officer Richard “Rick” Gonzales was asked to resign. Gonzales said, “In February I got a call from former Sheriff Adrian Garcia who asked me for my resume. When I asked him what for, he replied, ‘The mayor of Galena Park is looking for a Police Chief and I need your resume immediately.’ Mayor Esmeralda Moya called me on February 22, 2018 and asked me to come to city hall the next day so she could swear me in as Interim Chief.
“I wasted no time meeting citizens, school administrators, heads of different departments, and business owners. The mayor said she was receiving good responses from the citizens regarding my presence in the community, and asked me to be the Chief as long as she was Mayor,” Gonzales said.
“I was under the impression I was to reduce crime and enhance the quality of life in the neighborhoods, I was doing that until the Mayor said for me to stop. I found the community tremendously divided, and my addressing issues of the community are not what the Mayor seems to want,” Gonzales said. Gonzales posted his resignation letter on his Facebook page.
Mayor Moya when asked about Gonzales’ short 4 month stint as chief, she said, “I was getting lots of complaints from officers in the police department about the way Gonzales was supervising and other issues we heard were going on. If true, this wasn’t what we wanted. I had to make a change for the betterment of the department and the city. I was going to ask him to resign because I didn’t want to fire him, and I think it’s best he resigned. I wish it hadn’t come to this but it did and we must learn from it and move on.”
New Interim Chief James Michael Knox is 57 years old. This will be his third time to serve as Interim Chief, having previously served as Interim Chief under Mayors James Havard and Bobby Barrett.
Knox has been a Sergeant for the past 25 years and holds a Master Peace Officers certification with the state. “For the time being I’m not going to make any big changes. I need to first get my feet on the ground and evaluate things. I know I want more police presence to cut down on crime, which will require hiring additional officers,” Knox said. Last month Gonzales awarded Knox as his Officer of the Year, calling him his Most Valuable Officer in the department.
Newly elected Police Commissioner Rodney Chersky said, “It was proven to be a necessary change. Chief Knox is a very well known, respected, highly capable and experienced police supervisor who will, without a doubt, perform an outstanding job as the Galena Park Police Chief as he is a proven leader in our community. He and I have an excellent professional working relationship, and together we will move the police department in a positive direction while bringing the necessary changes needed to enhance visibility, police services, and response times for our citizens and to our community.”
In June of 2016, Officer Edward Mata was hired as Interim Chief, serving only 8 months Mayor Moya asked him to resign. Officer Reese Martin, a newcomer in the department, was hired as Interim Chief in February of 2017; he resigned a year later in February 2018.