The Galveston City Council has unanimously approved the selection of
Vernon Hale, a deputy chief of police with the Dallas Police Department,
as the island city's next police chief.
Hale, 47, who has served in the Dallas Police Department
since 1992, will start his new job on Jan. 2. He will succeed Police
Chief Rick Boyle, who announced his retirement in February.
Council members and city officials were effusive in their praise for Hale, a devotee of community policing.
"I feel like he will be a great addition to the Galveston
Police Department," said City Manager Brian Maxwell. "He has big shoes
to fill with Chief Boyle retiring, but I think we might end up with the
best police chief we've ever had here."
The council's approval of Hale's hiring follows a lengthy
search that included as many as 46 candidates. Hale was selected over
two other finalists, retired Houston Police Department Executive
Assistant Chief George Buenik and Galveston City Marshal Michael Gray.
"We went through a pretty long, arduous interview
process. We ended up with three very, very capable finalists, it was
very difficult to make this decision," Maxwell acknowledged.
Maxwell said Hale made a strong impression in his interviews.
"It really felt like after you talk to Mr. Hale for about
five minutes, you feel like you've known him his whole life," Maxwell
Council members cited Hale's deep commitment to community
policing, juvenile outreach and his knowledge of pension reforms, which
Hale said was a "bad word" -- a wry reference to his involvement in the
Dallas Police Department's hard-fought pension fixes.
Hale will soon leave his post as deputy chief of police
of the Southeast Patrol Division. Hale led the police department's
narcotics division from 2014 to 2016, and now serves as commander of the
Dallas Underwater Recovery Team. He is also an adjunct professor at
several universities in the Dallas area.
Dressed sharply in a charcoal gray suit, Hale said he
would embark on a months-long "listening tour" around Galveston. A
motorcycle enthusiast, Hale has frequented Galveston's motorcycle rally
and jokingly asked for some sponsors for a Mardi Gras float.
Hale discussed his commitment to community policing, a
strategy that focuses on engagement and building ties with the community
to help prevent crime.
"Any chief that can tell you they can arrest their way
out of crime is an idiot, I don't know what else to tell you," Hale
said. "The jails won't hold enough people. It's not going to
rehabilitate people and they're gonna come back at some point. The
community is our eyes and ears, we will never be everywhere, we will
never have enough cops to be everywhere and so you have to have the
community engagement piece where the people tell us who the real
Hale added that the listening sessions would extend to
his own department. He said he would work hard to recruit and retain
officers and keep morale high.
"The one thing I know I'll do is give [the officers] a
person who loves them, cares about them and to give them a work
environment that, even if they have the opportunity to do something
bigger, that they're gonna look me in the eye and make a tough decision
because I'm gonna make it hard for them to leave."
Hale will be paid $130,000 a year, plus $2,500 year in residency pay if he chooses to live on the island.