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Windcrest to begin looking for new police chief

January 22, 2019

Windcrest officials will meet this week to begin the process to find a new police chief after its current top cop announced his retirement this month.

The police chief position is one of three administrative spots the city currently must fill. The city has already narrowed its search for a new fire chief to three individuals and has named an interim city secretary.

Police Chief A.O. “Al” Ballew this month informed the city that Sunday would be his final day as the city’s police chief.

“I am very proud of my devotion to duty and my accomplishments,” Ballew said, “and I am very proud of the Windcrest Police Department.”

Ballew was named Windcrest Police Chief in February 2012, succeeding interim chief Joe O’Brien.

“It is impossible to quantify the many acts of courage, compassion, kindness and concern that Windcrest police officers perform each and every day,” Ballew stated in his Jan. 14 retirement letter. “I am deeply grateful for their acts and for the privilege of working beside them for the past seven years, as their chief.”

Ballew began his career in law enforcement 35 years ago with the San Antonio Police Department, where he held numerous positions. He retired in 2006 and accepted a position with the San Antonio Park Police Department, where he commanded the Covert Operations Unit, CORE Unit and Environmental Crimes.

He retired from the Park Police Department in 2011, having served the city of San Antonio with over 28 years of service, before accepting the Windcrest post.

“We want to, as quickly as we can, re-establish the command structure in the police department,” Mayor Dan Reese said. He said he would like to see a new chief in place by late March. Lt. Daniel Hernandez will serve as interim chief until city council names Ballew’s replacement.

Reese said council is close to selecting a new fire chief. The nomination process has narrowed to three applicants, and Reese said he hopes a permanent fire chief can be selected and in place by mid-March.

“We have three people … to check to see if they are still interested and, if they are, then we will set up interviews with council,” Reese said. “We did this once before and didn’t find the pick of the field that we wanted.”

The volunteer fire department has been under the guidance of interim fire chief Tim Zelenak since the May 2018 resignation of former chief Jonathan Weidemann. Zelenak is a full-time firefighter in Hollywood Park and is not being considered for the permanent post.

The city on Jan. 4 named Marie Gelles as interim city secretary after former city secretary Kelly Rodriguez resigned. Gelles took the post on Jan. 4 and will serve until council picks a successor.

jflinn@express-news.net

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