SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — During the best of times and during the worst of times, Assistant Police Chief Javier Garza was on duty giving a helpful hand over the past three decades.
Garza, 51, retired from the South Padre Island Police department this past week. He turned in his badge and weapon and is turning the page to the next chapter of his life.
“I really enjoyed the job,” Garza said. “I went from the dispatcher, to police officer, commander, assistant chief and even interim-chief for a while.”
When Garza joined the police force there were only 12 officers on patrol. Now, there are 28 and 13 reserve police officers on duty.
“Assistant Chief Garza played an important role within the management and security of the Island for over 30 years,” said Randy Smith, SPI police chief. “He was experienced in overseeing special events, organizing traffic control operations and coordinating the city’s emergency management plan. His experience, knowledge and dedication will be truly missed by everyone.”
This year marks the first year Garza will not be on duty during Spring Break. Garza went on official police duty in 1985 during this Island’s busiest time of the year.
“Javier’s career progressed through almost every section of the department which allowed him first-hand experience of the responsibilities required for staff and officers,” Smith said. “You can’t teach 30 plus years’ worth of experience. Having an assistant chief that knew the city, the department and knew how to lead by example was immeasurable.”
Garza said his love for law enforcement came from being a dispatcher. He said he took many calls.
While a student at the police academy Garza was a full-time dispatcher for the Island police department.
One particular call came in about a stolen truck when he first started the job. And on his way home he noticed the stolen vehicle.
He notified the police and the next thing a constable handed Garza a shotgun. With guns drawn Garza and the constable retrieved the stolen truck.
Garza said he has been very blessed to have worked for the Island and for the opportunity to serve the community on the police force his entire career.
“Assistant Chief Garza’s commitment to the city stands out most,” said Bill DiLibero, SPI city manager. “He was actively involved in every event in the city, large or small, and he had strong friendships with all of the community leaders resulting from his participation and dedication to the city.”
Garza was a first responder to major accidents and emergencies on the Island. He was there when the causeway collapsed, he was there during hurricanes and he was there when people needed help.
“Assistant Chief Garza showed strong leadership to his team of officers and dispatchers,” DiLibero said. “He set the standard for new officers as well as experienced staff in their efforts to become community leaders.”
As for now, Garza said he has turned the page to a new chapter in his life. He said he is going to wait and see what happens.
“I’m going to spend time with my family,” Garza said. “I want to sit back, relax and get ready for the next chapter in my life.”