EDINBURG — There’s a new chief in town.

Jaime Ayala met with local media inside the Edinburg City Council Chambers on Wednesday morning to introduce himself formally as the police chief of the recently embattled department and share his plans since taking reins on Oct. 15.

When asked how his first few days have been, he described it as drinking water from a fire hose.

“There’s just so much when you’re trying to understand the policies, the general orders and operating procedures, the equipment we have and the resources we have, and the structure of the organization — you have to really just pace yourself and systematically absorb all of this so that you’re not overloading your staff,” Ayala said. “It’s been an exciting, fun-filled, energetic week-and-a-half.”

A native of Edinburg and a 1983 Edinburg High graduate, Ayala has spent over 32 years of his career working his way up the ranks with the Arlington Police Department, where he most recently served as interim police chief.

“After 32-and-a-half years, I was blessed with this opportunity to come home to Edinburg and serve as police chief,” Ayala said.

His law enforcement career began in Edinburg as a reserve officer while attending college at the University of Texas-Pan American (now UTRGV).

“That’s kind of where I got my kick-off to knowing that policing is the profession I wanted to pursue,” he said.

Ayala said that he is looking forward to being back home and rekindling some of his childhood friendships. He described the opportunity to come home and work where his law enforcement career took root as an honor and a privilege.

But he added that he is really anticipating the opportunity to develop new relationships within the community.

“The first thing I want to do is obviously assess where we’ve been, where we’re at, what is our strategic goal or strategic vision moving forward,” Ayala said. “I want to establish the goals that typically would — looking at crime, reducing crime, creating livable, safe neighborhoods for our community to feel proud of where they live and where they work and where they play. We know that a happy community makes a fruitful community.”

The new chief acknowledged that there will be challenges ahead of him as he assimilates, particularly gaining and building the trust of his new police force.

“That’s probably been at the tip of the spear for me; establishing those relationships early on with our people so they get to know who I am, so they get to know what I’m about, what my DNA is like so that together we can move forward,” Ayala said. “At the end of the day, this is an organization that I’m coming into. It’s their organization that I’m trying to join, and so far they’ve been extremely accepting.

“Just the amount of professionalism that I’ve already been exposed to — I’m excited about building the pond.”

Ayala’s appointment comes after former Chief Cesar Torres was terminated on May 21, following a neutral arbitrator’s ruling that he discriminated against two police officers for union membership and activity.

The new chief said that he is aware of what happened, but said he plans to leave that in the past and focus on what’s ahead.

“I’m really focused on the future of the Edinburg Police Department,” Ayala said. “I’ve met with our two police associations. They’re very open. They’re very engaging. I think establishing a trusting relationship with them, just like I’m trying to do with the media here today, is at the foremost of what we need to accomplish.”

“Treating people right, treating them fair, being consistent in the things we do is going to establish that trust that is needed in any workforce that you ever take over when you’re coming in from the outside,” Ayala continued. “People need to get to know who you are, and people need to trust that you have their best interests in mind.”

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