EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The city of Edinburg has a new chief of police.
Jaime Ayala shared his mission for the city at a media briefing held Wednesday.
“My long-term goal is to be the best police department in the State of Texas, I’m developing a strategic plan and a strategic vision and the values of the organization and where we want to be in the next 3-5 years,” said Chief Ayala.
He may be new to the role, but Ayala is no stranger to the city.
Raised in Edinburg, the RGV native tells ValleyCentral he’s happy to be back in the South Texas heat, overseeing the city that raised him.
“It is exciting to be back after going away for school and having a career in Arlington for more than 32 years and to have an opportunity to come back to this police department where my career started as a reserve officer and a midnight dispatcher while in college, it’s just really cool,” said Ayala.
Ayala was a reserve officer for the Edinburg Police Department in 1984.
“I would ride out every weekend, I figured I would put in for it, and I was out on patrol every Friday and Saturday night,” said Ayala.
He then went to the University of Texas Arlington where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in communications.
That’s when he fell in love with the North Texas town that gave him a chance to wear the badge.
“When I was in Arlington I said, ‘hey there’s an opening, I’ll put in for it’ and then they gave me an opportunity, I wanted to grow and I just stayed because that police department was growing and it was a great opportunity there,” said Ayala.
Ayala quickly grew within Arlington Police, eventually climbing to the position of Assistant Police Chief and overseeing the Criminal Investigation Bureau, which focuses on murder, burglary, SWAT, K-9, gangs, and more.
With more than three decades of experience in law enforcement with Arlington Police, the City of Edinburg felt he was a good candidate for the position.
The Edinburg Police Department is made up of 161 sworn officers and 63 civilian employees with a jurisdiction of approximately 37.5 square miles and serving over 87,000 residents, according to the city’s website.
“When you look at a large agency, it’s broken up in divisions, so the only thing that changes is the metrics for the number of people you’re responsible for. But the policies and the procedures, everything that is in line with policing today is the same regardless of the size of the agencies you’re in, you still have the same challenges,” said Ayala, “The challenges our officers in this country face are the highest and most difficult we’ve ever faced, so the officer working the street today, I commend them, I appreciate the fact that they’re willing to put the badge on for what the badge means and serve the community with dignity and respect.”
Chief Ayala says his next goal is to meet with every officer from the most senior to the high-ranking ones, as well as all the professional civilians that work within the department.
“I want each and every officer and each employee, both sworn and unsworn, to know that their best interest is at the forefront of what I want to do and to where we are able to help them grow in the career and the path that they want to go, so they can have a rewarding career because a happy worker is a worker that comes and does their job well and then the community is the recipient to great service and that’s what the primary goal is.”
The focus, for now, is ensuring the needs of those that work at the Edinburg Police Department are met.
“It’s my responsibility to create the best, most rewarding work environment we can have where our employees are happy to be here because we have great people and I’ve met some of them in the week and a half I’ve been here.”
As for the residents of Edinburg, Ayala says they’re also a priority.
“We will engage them through community watch groups and other mentoring groups we have and others we will establish so we can grow connectivity with the community and we’re not just driving in a car, but we’re actually engaging with people in the neighborhood,” said Ayala.
Ayala was officially sworn in on October 15, 2021.