San Juan hires new chief of police

SAN JUAN — The city announced in a news release Tuesday that it has chosen Ruben Morin to head its police department.

Chief Ruben Morin21

Morin is a Rio Grande Valley native and a graduate of PSJA High School who has over 27 years of law enforcement experience, city officials said.

Morin, who retired from the Texas Department of Public Safety in February, said he’s proud to return to his roots and serve the city of San Juan.

“I am ready to bring my experience to lead the growing City of San Juan and our San Juan Police Department in a new direction as we work together to protect our citizens, enhance our police operations, and work with our local partners in the region,” Morin said in the release.

Morin started his law enforcement career with the San Juan Police Department and worked there from 1993 to 1997, when he left to pursue what would become a 22-year career with DPS, where he served in multiple capacities over the years.

Former San Juan chief Juan Gonzalez resigned in August after the city placed him on paid administrative leave for three weeks.

It’s still unclear why he was placed on leave, but Gonzalez told The Monitor after his retirement that city officials just wanted a change.

“Basically, I was just told, ‘We’re going to go in a different direction. To me, I don’t know what direction they’re going to go. I’ve worked in city government enough to understand that the chief position is a political position,” Gonzalez said in August, adding that though he wished the situation was handled differently, he doesn’t hold any grudges.

In picking a new chief, San Juan Mayor Mario Garza said the city considered approximately 20 applicants.

“I think out of twenty-some applicants, our city manager had pulled out a total of three top ones. We had a small committee of our city manager, our finance director and our human resource director. They pretty much interviewed the potential candidates and they had a scoring system to where Mr. Rubin Morin was the top candidate for that position. We based that on the recommendation of our city manager,” Garza said.

The mayor said Morin has the resume and qualifications to build the police department and take it to another level.

“Now that we’ve hired a new chief, I feel that we are going to move forward. He brings a lot of great ideas. One thing he really stressed about is the community policing aspect of law enforcement,” Garza said. “I feel that’s very important where we want to have a chief who really stresses that type of policing so that way we can engage with our citizens and get them involved to help fight crime and have our citizens feel comfortable to where they can be part of the process.”

Garza said Morin brings a lot to the city because of his local ties.

“I think he brings a lot to the table in the sense that he’s from here. He’s local. He knows the culture and the movement here in the San Juan community, and more so the PSJA community. He’s well-known. He’s got roots here. That’s something that says a lot about him in which he’s going to bring a lot to the table and move our police department forward,” Garza said.

The mayor also lauded his long law enforcement career.

During his 22 years with DPS, Morin worked as a Texas Highway Patrol trooper; a sergeant/investigator targeting Transnational Criminal Organizations in Hidalgo County; a lieutenant with the Cameron County Directed Intelligence Group; an administrative lieutenant with the Criminal Investigations Division headquarters in Austin; and most recently, Morin oversaw programs involving the Criminal Investigations Division throughout the state, including the San Antonio Anti-Gang Unit.

City officials believe that during that time, he built and maintained strong working relationships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies; worked with multi-million-dollar budgets; secured grants; and has led the planning, administration and daily operations of departments he was involved with.

“Morin is most proud of his morale-building skills for effectively leveraging both personnel and financial resources, as well as creating and maintaining community relationships both internally and externally with outside law enforcement agencies and community partners,” the city said in the news release.

He is also a U.S. Army veteran and served in the Texas National Guard.

Morin said in the release that he’s excited to get to work.

“This region has experienced dynamic growth over the years, and having worked in the region for many years, I am excited to expand our relationship with law enforcement agencies and foster a positive image within our San Juan community,” Morin said in the release.

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Francisco E. Jimenez contributed to this report.