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Mission’s police chief retiring in 2012

20111028_PoliceChiefMISSION — The city’s top lawman submitted his resignation to the Mission City Council on Monday after 25 years of service to the city to spend more time with his family.

Mission Police Chief Leo Longoria’s resignation is effective Jan. 1, 2012.

“I think it is time for me to pay more attention to my wife and children,” Longoria said.

City Manager Julio Cerda read a list of Longoria’s accomplishments during the meeting while accepting his resignation.

“Since he became chief in 1995, Longoria as been through thick and thin with the City of Mission, and has been one of the hardest working employees for the mayor, council and citizens of Mission,” Cerda said.

When Longoria joined the Mission Police Department in 1986, Mission was a community with 20,000 people and the police department had a staff of 40. Today, the population has nearly quadrupled and Longoria, who became police chief in 1995, presides over a police department that has a staff of 180, of which 140 are police officers.

The chief has also been one of the few law enforcement officials to be open about the ongoing border violence in Mission’s backyard.

He believes that lawmakers in Washington, who do not deal with the situation on a daily basis, really don’t understand the situation. Longoria said that people who don’t live along the border don’t understand the potential for spillover that exists. He is afraid Washington leaders are going to wait until it is too late to deal with the problems.

Longoria introduced many of the programs conducted by the Mission Police Department. He was the first to implement the Educational Resource Officer Programs in the Rio Grande Valley at Mission and Sharyland school districts. He also implemented the GREAT and DARE programs in the districts along with the Crime Stoppers Program and Campus Crime Stoppers Program.

After his oldest daughter died in a traffic accident, he implemented the Amanda Longoria Memorial Scholarship Fund for Mission High School and Veterans Memorial High School students.

Other programs the department has introduced under Longoria’s leadership include the Mission Police Explorer Program, the Annual National Night Out Program, the F.B.I. Partnership for Safe Street-Violent Crimes Task Force and the D.E.A. Partnership for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Taskforce. He implemented partnerships with the Department of Homeland Security’s Division of Investigations, the U.S. Marshal Fugitive Apprehension Task Force and the Madero Project and the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office for state seizures.

He worked with the Lower Rio Grande Valley Council of Governments to establish the Regional Police Academy in Mission.

Under his guidance, Mission was the first police department in the Valley to place digital cameras in police units and the first to install GPS systems in patrol units. He also implemented the Mash-Camera Network System and purchased and implemented use of a Mobile Command Center.

He supervised construction of the new police station in 1998 through 2000 and supervised construction of the new police south station in 2009-2010. He implemented the K-9 program, the Boat Patrol Division, the Identification Division (ID Technicians), the Traffic Division, the Anzalduas Bridge Division and implemented the SWAT Team.

He has been instrumental in getting numerous grants for the city to provide equipment and to implement other programs.

Upon hearing Longoria’s announcement of his resignation during Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas quipped, “What are you going to do if we refuse to take your resignation?” He added that he was very pleased with the job that Longoria has done for the city.

“I feel bad to see him leave,” Salinas said. “Longoria has been a very good chief of police for the city and it is sad to see him leave. He had my support.”

Longoria is retiring with a total of 30 years in public service including 25 and a half years with MPD; 16 of those were as police chief. He also served in the Marines for four years and worked a short time in Alamo with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office before coming to Mission.

Longoria said he has neglected his family. He has five children including the daughter lost several years ago in a car accident. Now he feels it is time to spend more time with his wife and children.

“I will remain a strong advocate for the border area safety in the future, but will do so from private life, not as police chief,” Longoria said.

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