When former Canyon Police Department Captain Ray Resendez took over as chief of the Dumas Police Department (DPD) in October, he identified domestic violence and vehicle theft as two areas of crime needing extra attention. Resendez says domestic violence calls to the Dumas Police Department (DPD) average one or two per day. "I know there will always be issues in families, but the domestic violence calls in Dumas are too high." Domestic violence calls are challenging, volatile, and dangerous for police. Resendez wants to increase resources devoted to families and make dealing with these cases a priority. "I want to improve the way we investigate the cases, increase training of officers in domestic violence, and implement the newest practices. … There are things we can do differently, not only with victims but with offenders to hold them accountable to seek treatment."
Vehicle theft is another problem Resendez says is plaguing Dumas. "These numbers are too high. We have had a rash of stolen vehicles." But, he says, one big reason the problem is so bad is that stealing vehicles here is not a great challenge for the average thief. Many people leave the keys in unlocked, unattended vehicles and, in some cases, leave the vehicles with the engine running. Dumas' central location in the Panhandle on US 87/287 makes the city a tempting target for thieves, both home-grown and those coming in from elsewhere. "That makes it pretty tough." But, vehicle owners can do a lot to help themselves. "Don't make yourself an easy victim. Lock your car and take your keys. That would help us out immensely."
Resendez says Dumas has a more diverse population than Canyon, where he spent more than two decades in the police department, but he does not see it as a problem. "I like to see the different cultures in the community." He is the second Hispanic chief of the DPD. The late Marvin Trejo was the first. "Community policing" has become a popular concept in recent years, but Resendez is not a fan of the term. "I know the definition of community policing, but what is it? They use the term so loosely, and they want to use it for whatever they want. I would rather call it "community engagement," and yes, I am very committed to that." Resendez wants to increase the focus on some of the non-enforcement activities of policing. "I don't want to say less enforcement, because we still need law enforcement, but less enforcement practices. That will engage with the community. That is where you win the trust with them. … We are at a time where we are trying to fight for trust." In addition to DPD involvement in Shop With a Cop and the Explorer program (where high school students undergo police training to become familiar with law enforcement careers), Resendez would like to establish, among other things, adult and student academies to encourage members of the public to learn about law enforcement and to get to know officers. He would like to make the academies interesting for people and give them a taste of what happens in day to day policing. "I would like it to be a more hands on type of training, not just sitting in a classroom. I want to engage officers with citizens."
The last few years have been difficult for law enforcement. This year, protests, sometimes violent, erupted across the country after George Floyd, a black man, died in police custody in Minneapolis in May. The "Black LIves Matter" movement came to Dumas in June when a small group of diverse, mostly young people marched from McDade Park to the police station downtown where they held a rally. Police and protesters treated each other with respect, and despite a lot of rumors, the day's events took place without incident. Resendez says he appreciates the support the police department receives from the public in Dumas, but officers are still not sheltered from what happens in the rest of the nation. Some members of the Texas Department of Public Safety in Amarillo were sent to help provide security in Austin when protests erupted there last summer. "It affects every police officer, whether they tell you it does or not. It affects me, because I am concerned for officers. When you see the negativity in the media, newspapers, or just word of mouth, you worry about your officers who are out on the street every day and night, because most police officers want to do the right thing. … I believe most of them do a great job for the community." Resendez says he understands policing is not perfect everywhere, and "when we are wrong we ought to own it."
"I have enjoyed the welcome; Dumas is a very friendly town," said Resendez of his first months in Dumas. Resendez grew up in Tulia, graduated from Tulia High School, and served more than 25 years in law enforcement as a member of the Canyon Police Department, before he decided to apply for the job of chief in Dumas. In Canyon he was a patrol officer and investigator, among other things. He was one of the first members of the emergency response team and worked with school resource officers. Over the years, he held a number of supervisory positions. He helped write budgets and come up with policies. According to Dumas City Manager Arbie Taylor, who hired Resendez as chief, he came highly recommended for the job.
"I like being a police officer," said Resendez. "Every call you go on is a little different. What you do all day is solve problems. … You see people at their very lowest and where they are doing really good. That is what is nice to see, when the outcome is better. It may not start out great, but at the end either you get justice or somebody is saved -- whatever happens you want to see the positive side."