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Pearsall’s new chief reaches out to community for improved relations in crime fighting
Humberto Torralba II has been named the top law enforcement officer for the city of Pearsall, where he expects to focus on education and community involvement.
Torralba was among four finalists for the police chief’s job after Peter Salinas resigned from his post in late December. Salinas has since joined the Frio County Sheriff’s Office as chief deputy.
Torralba comes to the Pearsall Police Department with a rake of accolades and extensive education in law enforcement.
“My father showed us the importance of education from a very young age,” the new police chief said. “I have five children and they are all successful.”
Torralba says a long lineage of relatives in law enforcement inspired him to seek a degree in criminal justice; he later joined the Middle Rio Grande Law Enforcement Academy, where he graduated with the highest attainable grade.
Straight out of the academy, Torralba was offered a job as a game warden with the Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife, but he chose instead to work for the Maverick County Sheriff’s office. Within a year, he was promoted to sergeant but when a job opened up in his hometown, he could not pass it up.
“My wife Sarah Lillian and I have five children and being able to be there for their events and to watch them grow up is important to me,” the newly hired chief said.
Torralba spent most of his career in law enforcement with the Eagle Pass Police Department, where he retired as a corporal investigator after 25 years.
During his time with the Eagle Pass PD, the new chief earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Strayer University, took the Bill Blackwood Police Chief Leadership Course, earned an emergency management certification, and served on the school board.
“I pushed early education,” the chief said of his decision to run for the Eagle Pass ISD school board. “My son Kevin wanted to graduate early and there was little help the district had to offer.”
Torralba looks back on his retirement from Eagle Pass and laughs.
“I only retired for one weekend before deciding to take the job as the chief of police for Pleasanton ISD,” he says.
The school police chief was tasked with improving the two-man department that lacked adequate equipment and manpower.
“I was there a year and two months,” Torralba says. “I was able to prove to the superintendent that we needed to build the department and by the time I left there were five officers and a building to house the department.”
In February 2020, a family decision weighed on Torralba and he decided to come back home and work with the district attorney’s office as a narcotics investigator.
“It really was a blessing,” he says. “Being away from my family was a hardship. I never saw my boy play a single football game during his junior high years.”
After nearly three decades of rising through the ranks at various departments, Torralba has decided to focus himself as a police chief of a small community.
“I applied in other small towns,” he says. “I think the experience I have from Pleasanton ISD will benefit me.”
The new chief plans to have a community-oriented policing approach and he wasted no time getting to know residents. The day he started, Torralba and other officers volunteered at the food distribution held by the city for those residents who were affected by Winter Storm Uri.
“I am a strong advocate for getting to know the citizens,” the chief says. “I want the citizens to be a part of the solution for the crime. Narcotics are a social issue; we need to focus on the demand and where these illegal drugs are coming from.”
With an emphasis on education and the determination to work with other agencies, the new chief expects his staff to focus on providing the proper education to offenders, helping those who need help and enforcing prosecution.
“I want my officers to be professional and present themselves with integrity,” the chief says. “I want them to make the proper arrests for proper prosecution.”
The new chief acknowledges ‘hiccups’ that will occur during the turnover of a new administrator, but he vows to provide what he describes as a strong management style to provide the best service to the public.
“It has been a challenge studying what I have and what they can bring,” the chief says of the officers that are currently at the police department. “There are three vacancies. I am currently leaving the structure because things are working well; I think things could be better.”
Torralba praises former Chief Peter Salinas for leaving the department with a structure in place, saying the transition has been smooth.
“I did not want to come in and chop everyone’s toes off,” he laughs. “I will work with what I have now and see where I can build from that. My lieutenant is doing way more than I expected from him and is doing more than I could ask for. He has been a blessing.”
As narcotics, burglaries and self-affiliated gang activity continue to rise in the community, the chief plans to combat the crimes using experience from his time with the DEA.
“The primary problem is the narcotics,” the chief says. “With that comes the gangs. If we do not work together with the community, we will never solve the issue.”
The chief hopes to establish a community-based committee that would consist of teachers, business owners, parishioners, grandparents and teenagers in an attempt to education the community of illegal activity and warning signs of narcotics use.
“I want people to have trust in the police department but more important in the city of Pearsall,” the chief says. “I ask that you give me time to know the community and understand the crime rate to make Pearsall a safer city than it is now.”