Native Killeenite Ray Garner has made it to the top.
Garner, a graduate of the Killeen High School class of 1969, was sworn in Monday as chief of the Laredo Police Department.
Garner, 62, was approved for the post by a unanimous vote of the Laredo City Council in March.
In the border city of Laredo, Garner oversees 450 peace officers and is responsible for the public safety of 241,935 residents. Laredo is Texas’ 10th largest city, according to the Census Bureau.
The Killeen Police Department has about 240 authorized peace officers and serves about 132,000 people.
“I am really proud and really humble,” Garner said in a telephone interview from his Laredo office Monday. “It has always been my desire to be police chief here.”
A graduate of Central Texas College, Garner began his career in law enforcement in Laredo in 1972 working for the Texas Department of Public Safety, where he served 26 years.
While serving as a sergeant for DPS, Garner assisted in the seizure of hundreds of pounds of narcotics each week, he said.
Laredo has around 5,000 federal, state, county and local officers, who monitor the drug and human trafficking crime along the border.
“That’s the reason why we have such a good crime rate, because everyone is involved and everyone cares,” Garner said.
After retiring from the DPS in 1996, Garner took his expertise to South Texas Police Academy, where he worked as an administrator and instructor for 13 years.
In 2009 he became police chief of the United Independent School District, which serves more than 40,000 students in the Laredo area.
Garner’s brother Oliver said Garner planned to join the Army as a young man but injured his collarbone playing sandlot football.
Law enforcement apparently ran in the family because Ray Garner, Oliver Garner and their brother Curtis Garner chose careers in police work.
Their sister Joyce Garza became a prison guard in Angleton.
“Basically, everybody has become a cop,” Oliver Garner said. “(Ray) is just a great guy and this is the best thing that could have happened to him.”