Donna school district police Chief Daniel Walden, 53, died over the weekend, prompting a law enforcement procession in town Monday morning in his memory.
Walden had served as the school district police department’s full-time chief since 2017.
He spent 12 years in the emergency medical field and over 20 in law enforcement, serving at times as a detective with the Donna Police Department and as a sergeant with Donna ISD police.
“Those who knew him well say Chief Walden cared about his job and all his officers and security personnel,” a district release reads. “He was always willing to help someone out and was known for the saying “amigo” to those closest to him.”
Walden was a frequent instructor for other Rio Grande Valley law enforcement officers, passing along his experience at training clinics.
“Chief Walden was a well-known law enforcement instructor across the state of Texas, specializing in classes related to mental health, school-based law enforcement, firearms, and sexual assault/family violence,” the release reads. “He held several licenses including a Master Peace Officer License, the highest certification that a peace officer can hold.”
In 2019, Walden was recognized with the Focus On Reducing Impaired Driving Among Youth (FRIDAY) Program Instructor Of The Year 2019 Award at the inaugural Texas Law Enforcement Impaired Driving Summit in Austin for his work instructing, a district news release said.
The chief called the award an honor.
“I feel that it is my mission to keep law enforcement and those who deal with young people, educated with current drug and alcohol trends along with enforcement and prevention,” Walden was quoted saying in the release. “We need to take the opportunity within our schools to work with our students who are affected by these issues. Prevention, education and restorative justice needs to be implemented in order to battle the challenges that our youth face today.”
Departments and individual officers throughout South Texas took to social media to remember Walden on Monday.
“On behalf of the men and women of the Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office, we would like to give our deepest condolences to the Walden Family through this difficult time,” Pct. 3 Constable Lazaro “Larry” Gallardo Jr. wrote in a social media post.
Others remembered Walden for his law enforcement skill set and work ethic.
“Chief Daniel Walden was a friend to the San Diego Police Department and we will miss him dearly,” the San Diego Police Department wrote. “He was the personification of professionalism, wisdom and compassion. Law enforcement lost one of the great ones today and it will be impossible to ever replace you. Fly high ‘Amigo’”
Walden leaves behind two sons, Daniel Mario and Isaiah Charles Walden.