Asst Police Chief Paul Cross to Retire
by Sito Negron
Posted on December 10, 2007
Editor's note: Story updated with Chief Richard Wiles' comments 12.11.07
Assistant Police Chief Paul Cross said Monday he was planning to retire after 24 years with the El Paso Police Department.
"I've been an assistant chief for four years," said Cross, 48. "I was thinking about retiring in December. I teach part time at UTEP and will start teaching part time at the University of Phoenix. That's enough to keep me busy."
Cross' retirement will be the second among the top command at the Police Department this month. Police Chief Richard Wiles announced that he will leave the position at the end of the month, and he has hinted he will join the crowded field for sheriff.
Cross said he had not applied for the chief's job, although he was widely considered a leading candidate for the position. Deputy Chief Greg Allen was named interim chief last week.
Cross, who joked he is not running for sheriff -- many of the candidates for the position are coming from the Police Department -- widely was considered a leading candidate for the police chief position following Police Chief Richard Wiles' retirement announcement. Cross also is considered a potential manager in the Sheriffs Department if Wiles enters and wins that campaign.
"With his years of experience the department is losing an individual who has contributed a lot to the organization over the years," Wiles said of Cross. He said he had not discussed any future positions with Cross.
City Rep. Steve Ortega said Cross' retirement was "a tremendous loss to the Police Department and ultimately to the city of El Paso. I think second to Chief Wiles he was the most visible person in the community when it came to putting a face to the El Paso Police Department. When questions were asked who should be the next police chief, many of my constituents, as well as community leaders, endorsed Paul Cross."
City Manager Joyce Wilson, who picks the police chief, said she had not been informed of Cross' retirement, but "if that’s what he decides to do I wish him the best."
She said that she did not have much interaction with him or the other top managers in the department other than Wiles. Wilson said that the command staff was sufficiently organized so that losing two of the top three managers -- Wiles and Cross, leaving Assistant Chief Diana Kirk -- would not throw the department off stride.
"The interim chief will have some flexibility and authority as it relates to any vacancy in the short term," Wilson said. "It's a really strong command."
"I don’t think it will have a substantial impact, just like my leaving will not," he said. "When Chief (Carlos) Leon left everyone left. I was the only one up there who had been in the chief's office."
Wiles said the department "mentored and prepared future leaders and I think we've done a good job with that."
Cross is in command of the Office of Operations. From the city Website:
"This office encompasses all of the Regional Commands in the city as well as the Major Crimes Bureau. Major Crimes includes all Criminal and Directed Investigations to include Crimes Against Persons, Narcotics, Sex Offenders, Financial Crimes, Crimes Against Children, and Elderly Abuse Crimes.
"Assistant Chief Cross has always been involved in the community. He is currently a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and also serves on the Board of Directors for the El Paso Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Board of Directors for Family Services of El Paso."
Cross said he served 24 years, "a long time, and I'm leaving a department in great shape."
Cross, who was the department's executive of the year in 2006, said he took great pride in the city's low crime rates, citing the designation as the "second-safest" city by Morgan-Quitno Research Company.
"It was an honor to work with the men and women of this department and I really believe we have the finest officers in this nation," he said. "Having been over operations in charge of crime fighting, and for us to be the second-safest city, it's a good time to get out now."
He complimented the officers in the department: "They're the hardest working officers -- we're 250 officers short and with them able to accomplish what they did, I'm very proud."
Cross said he plans to continue teaching criminal justice at UTEP, and will teach criminal justice and business course at the University of Phoenix.
His last day in the office will be Dec. 21, and his last pay day will be Dec. 26, he said.
"I love El Paso. I really love this place. My wife and her family are from here, and I'm going to stay here and work in the community in a positive way."
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