LYFORD — Angie Nunez has been living in Lyford since 1999. She is from Raymondville but raised her seven children here.
Now, for the first time, she has heard there is no police department on call. And she’s a little concerned, even though sheriff’s deputies are protecting the city.
“I still don’t feel safe. Try to get them quick as possible because we do need police here in Lyford,” Nunez said.
The Lyford Police Department has been temporarily closed since last Thursday. That’s because the police chief and his two officers recently left to take higher-paying jobs with the sheriff’s department.
In the meantime, the sheriff’s department is patrolling the area.
Mayor Jose G. “Wally” Solis says that will all soon be fixed. A new police chief has been hired.
“Monday night, city commissioners hired a new chief after several interviews. His name is James Harris and he will start officially in about a month or so,” Solis said.
The new chief will be in charge of advertising for new officers, Solis said. The salary for the police chief started at $38,700, but Solis said is has now been raised to $46,000.
“We had one individual but he transferred to the sheriff’s department last week,” he said.
Before closing the department, they always had one chief and two approved officers.
Depending on how many are needed, reserves are hired, too.
“At this moment, we have no officers. The officers went to the sheriff’s department.
Their pay is a little higher than ours,” Solis said.
Pay for an officer is $14 an hour, but wages are higher in the Willacy County Sherriff’s Department.
“I am desperate for a police department to be established,” Solis said.
Andres Maldonado, the former police chief of Lyford, left in August. He said the town had an interim chief since his departure.
Maldonado is now a major with the Willacy County Sherriff’s Department and confirmed those who need assistance can call the department for help.
“We are doing what we normally do and that is patrol the Lyford area and the rest of the county,” Maldonado said.
Maria Aparicio was born in Lyford and lived there until the age of 16.
Aparicio moved to Florida and recently came back to take care of her mother.
She has now been back for five months.
“Lyford is gone, it’s dead. It used to be alive, a small, beautiful town.
Knowing there is no police department makes me feel kind of sad,” Aparicio said. For Aparicio, receiving help from the sheriff’s office is not enough.
“I think we need police officers from here, not from other towns. I don’t know if that is enough, I worry about my mom and myself,” she said.
“Everyone goes where they are making a little bit more money but we do need police officers here.
From Lyford, working here in Lyford,” she said