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“Heroes don’t always wear capes” – Legislators, community leaders honor Assistant Chief of Police Peter De la Garza of Edinburg upon his retirement - Peter De la Garza - Titans of the Texas Legislature

FEATURED, FROM LEFT: Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, congratulates Edinburg Assistant Chief of Police Peter De la Garza on his retirement during a ceremony held on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at the Bert Ogden Arena. De la Garza is the longest-serving police officer and assistant chief in the history of the Edinburg Police Department. During his tenure, De la Garza was appointed four times as Interim Police Chief and has proven to be an exemplary leader, supervising hundreds of officers, leading task forces, and investigations. De la Garza and his wife, Alma, live in Guerra’s House District 41.

Photograph Courtesy CITY OF EDINBURG FACEBOOK

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“Heroes don’t always wear capes” – Legislators, community leaders honor Assistant Chief of Police Peter De la Garza of Edinburg upon his retirement

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
[email protected]

Peter De la Garza, the longest-serving police officer and Assistant Chief of Police in the history of the Edinburg Police Department, on Thursday, April 28, 2022, was honored by federal and state lawmakers, along with numerous other elected leaders, for his landmark legacy of duty and achievements during his retirement service held at the Bert Ogden Arena.

He began his career as a patrolman in December of 1978 and was promoted to Assistant Chief of Police in 1994. During his tenure, De la Garza was appointed four times as Interim Police Chief and has proven to be an exemplary leader, supervising hundreds of officers, leading task forces, and investigations.

After 43 years of dedicated service, he retired at the end of April 2022, as an Assistant Chief of Police with a Master Peace Officer state license.

A master peace officer is the highest level that a Texas peace officer can currently achieve.

https://bizfluent.com/info-8644772-tcleose-master-peace-officer-requirements.html

As an Assistant Chief of Police, De la Garza oversaw the day-to-day operations of the police department, including overseeing the following divisions:

• Training;
• Emergency Communications;
• Jail, Records;
• Special Services; and
• Animal Control.

Several hundred guests turned out in his honor for the afternoon ceremony, an event which included Rio Grande Valley state lawmakers and a representative for U.S. Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen.

“Peter De la Garza symbolizes the highest ideals of police officers and other law enforcement professionals, and his outstanding career as a protector of the people is a perfect example of the saying, ‘Heroes don’t always wear capes,’” said Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, making a reference to the popular image of fictional Hollywood caped superheroes, such as Superman or Batman.

“I want to express my deepest appreciation to Peter for his service to our city and I want to express my best wishes to him and his family in retirement,” added Canales, who also serves as Chair, House Committee on Public Transportation in the Texas Legislature

He is married to Alma Luna De la Garza and have two sons together: Nicholas Andrew De la Garza and Dominic Peter De la Garza.

Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, were among the many individuals at the retirement ceremony.

“Many times we don’t realize the sacrifices made by the families also make. Thank your family for being at home supporting Peter, many times, quite frankly, not knowing whether Peter would come home,” the state senator told him. “Many of us know what has happened to our law enforcement people, knowing the dangers they face every day.”

Hinojosa added, “He is respected, admired, and dedicated his life to protect our families here in this community with the Edinburg Police Department. For that, I want to thank you on behalf of the Texas Legislature.”

Guerra, himself a native of Edinburg, also expressed his pride and admiration for De la Garza.

“I’ve known Peter my whole life, and of course, Andrew, his brother. Andrew and I went to high school together,” said Guerra. “I’m going to miss you. You know that my firm does a lot of defense work for the City of Edinburg and the police department. You and I have worked together a lot. Thank you for everything you do. God bless.”

The three state lawmakers presented De la Garza with state mementos of his career and retirement, including flags flown over the Texas Capitol and a legislative resolution introduced into the Texas Legislature in his honor.

Laura Matamoros, Outreach Director with Congressman Vicente González, D-McAllen, delivered to De la Garza a U.S. flag flown over the U.S. Capitol.

Despite all the positive attention and tributes from the lawmakers, other law enforcement leaders, and elected leaders, De la Garza remained humble and grateful during the event.

“First of all, I want to thank the Lord for allowing me to serve 43 years with the City of Edinburg,” he said “Of course, this would not be possible without the support of my wife (Alma), who I met through my work.

“Back then, she worked at First State Bank, and we would do police security detail. Later this year, we’re going to be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. I love you,” De la Garza told his wife, who was in the audience. “We’ve been blessed with two wonderful boys, Nicholas and Dominic. Dominic is here.”

He also showed his gratitude to the rest of his immediate family.

“I’d like to thank my Dad (Jesse), who’s deceased, and my Mom (Elvira), for our upbringing, for teaching us about respect and work ethics,” De la Garza said. “I’d like to thank my siblings, Andrew, Allen, John, Helen, and of course, Norma, who is no longer with us, but is with us in spirit and is looking down. We lost her a year ago.”

Under his leadership, he supervised hundreds of officers, leading task forces, and investigations.

Perhaps just as impressive, according to city leaders, De la Garza’s colleagues always had someone to guide them in the right direction, leading them honorably and often used the phrase “Do what is right, what is fair and what is legal.”

Biographical Sketch
Peter De la Garza
Edinburg Assistant Chief of Police

Peter De La Garza, an Edinburg native, has more than four decades of law enforcement experience.

After 43 years of dedicated service, he retired at the end of April 2022, as an Assistant Chief of Police with a Master Peace Officer state license.

A master peace officer is the highest level that a Texas peace officer can currently achieve.

https://bizfluent.com/info-8644772-tcleose-master-peace-officer-requirements.html

As an Assistant Chief of Police, De la Garza oversaw the day-to-day operations of the police department, including overseeing the following divisions:

• Training;
• Emergency Communications;
• Jail, Records;
• Special Services; and
• Animal Control.

He graduated from Edinburg High School in 1976, then in 1983, he became a graduate of Pan American University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. Because of his education and professional background, De la Garza was nominated for the FBI National Academy, one of the most sought-after advanced police training worldwide.

The FBI National Academy is a professional course of study for U.S. and international law enforcement managers nominated by their agency heads because of demonstrated leadership qualities.

https://www.fbi.gov/services/training-academy/national-academy

He began his tenure as a patrol officer from 1978 to 1981, until he began rising through the ranks of the department as a Corporal, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Assistant Chief of Police and was Interim Chief of Police on four different occasions.

De la Garza was hired on December 19, 1978 by the City of Edinburg Public Safety Department/Police Division as a Patrolman I. On October 1, 1979, he was reclassified/restructured from Patrolman I to Patrol Person II. On February 2, 1981, De la Garza was reclassified/restructured from Patrol Person II to Patrolman, and on June 1, 1981, De La Garza transferred to the Detective Division as a Patrolman II. On July 23, 1981, he was promoted from Patrolman II to Corporal-Patrol.

On January 1, 1986, De La Garza was promoted from Corporal-Patrol to Sergeant-Patrol, and in 1990 he was accepted into the program for the FBI. National Academy, graduating as a member of the from the 163rd session of this prestigious academy in Quantico, Virginia.

On July 30, 1990, De La Garza was promoted from Sergeant-Patrol to Lieutenant-Patrol. On October 1, 1990, he was reclassified from Lieutenant-Patrol to Lieutenant, and on May 16, 1994, De La Garza was promoted from Lieutenant to Assistant Chief of Police.

On October 18, 2010, August 1, 2015, December 10, 2018, and May 5, 2021, De La Garza served as Interim Chief of Police.

During his years of service, De La Garza completed numerous advanced professional education and training, including:

• Edinburg Volunteer Fire Department, Certificate of Participation;
• Texas Department of Public Safety – Texas Crime Information Center;
• Texas Commission of Law Enforcement Officer Standards & Education;
• US Secret Service Seminar Counterfeiting;
• Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council Regional Training Center – Shotgun Training;
• Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council Regional Training Center –Detection & Advanced Field Sobriety Testing Course;
• Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council Regional Training Center – Community Oriented Policing;
• Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council Regional Training Center – Texas Crime Information Center/National Crime Information Center Access Operators;
• Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council – Investigative Issues & Cultural Pool;
• City of Edinburg – Customer Service Training/Recognizing and Preventing Sexual Harassment;
• Texas Municipal League – Basic HR for Supervisors;
• Operation Lifesaver – Grade Crossing Collision Investigation;
• Texas Forest Service-NIMS Incident Command System,
• FBI National Academy – Behavioral Science, Constitutional Law, Forensic Science, Education-Communication Arts & Management Science;
• South Texas College – Criminal Personality Profiling; and
• Midwest Counterdrug Training Center – Mexican Cartels and Culture.

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE’S CLASS OF 2022 CELEBRATES COMMENCEMENT ON SATURDAY, MAY 7, 2022

Shortly after midday Saturday, May 7, 2022, the University of Texas School of Medicine’s Class of 2022 celebrated commencement at the Region One Education Service Center in Edinburg.

After four challenging years of medical education, labs, research and hospital rotations – and more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions – 51 medical students worked through obstacles to reunite in person at their commencement and accept their degrees from the UTRGV School of Medicine.

This is the third group of medical graduates from the School of Medicine since it was established in 2013. To this day, the Class of 2022 has been the most diverse class yet.

Fourth-year medical graduate Unyime-Abasi Eyobio said working toward her medical degree has been a challenging yet rewarding experience, one that deepened her purpose to serve.

“My journey to becoming a physician has been a very unconventional one and many years in the making,” Eyobio said. “I believe that the twists and turns in my path deepened my faith in God and my conviction of my purpose to serve and care for my future patients as a physician.”

Eyobio is bound for the East Coast, where she’ll be joining the internal medicine residency program at Massachusetts General Hospital – Harvard Medical School. She said she and her classmates have overcome unique challenges, many brought on by the pandemic, to make it to commencement day.

“One of my favorite phrases from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow.’ This line exemplifies how most of us feel today at graduation,” Eyobio said. “I have created some strong bonds and learned so much in the past four years which I am hesitant to let go of. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to what lies ahead with anticipation and excitement.”

In his remarks to the Class of 2022, Dr. Michael B. Hocker, Dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine and Senior Vice President for UT Health RGV, said medical school graduation is a momentous accomplishment for aspiring medical professionals, and he is proud of all the UTRGV Class of 2022 medical graduates for their hard work and dedication.

“Class of 2022, you bring so much pride to our UTRGV School of Medicine. You are testament to our promise to train diverse and talented physician scientists for the benefit of the Rio Grande Valley and beyond,” Hocker said. “As you graduate from our UTRGV School of Medicine, you can take pride in knowing that you are now part of an extensive generation of physicians who, like you, have answered the call to serve others with dedication and compassion.

“A big congratulations to not only you – but to your friends, family, and all the champions who have helped you in your journey as a medical student,” he said.

Dr. Alma Rodriguez, M.D., M.A.C.P., Professor of Medicine for the Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma in the Division of Cancer Medicine and Medical Director for the MD Anderson Survivorship Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was keynote speaker at this year’s commencement ceremony. She offered words of encouragement to the new doctors, some of whom will remain in the Valley to serve the community.

“Graduates of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Medical School Class of 2022, congratulations! You have not only come through the academic demands of medical education, but you have lived the experience of clinical service through the COVID pandemic,” Rodríguez said. “You have my deepest respect and admiration because you did not give up, you stayed the course, and you are here today. Congratulations, and my very best wishes to you. The world needs you.”

Dr. Leonel Vela, the School of Medicine’s Senior Associate Dean for Educational Resources and Senior Associate Vice President for Education, applauded the Class of 2022’s dedication and the School of Medicine’s educational community for its time and efforts to prepare graduates for the next phase of medical training.

“The entire School of Medicine community applauds you in achieving this significant milestone as you pursue your journey toward practicing the art and science of medicine as compassionate physicians,” Vela said. “It brings such a great sense of fulfillment as we see you transition into your residency programs. We are so proud of all you have accomplished.”

The graduates now will head to their respective residency programs, including Dr. Khairiya Haj-yahya, now a resident physician whose medical career started in the Valley.

“Living in the Valley for so many years has given me a deeper understanding of our community and its unique needs,” Haj-yahya said. “I am grateful to have been given such a unique opportunity to attend medical school in the community where I grew up. As a newer medical school, UTRGV provided the perfect platform for students to grow and develop.”

Haj-yahya will stay in Valley to join UTRGV’s internal medicine residency program at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance – DHR Health. She said she and her classmates have overcome unique and personal challenges.

“I’m so proud of my classmates. It’s been a pleasure to see each person grow into themselves and their current roles. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for all of us,” Haj-yahya said as she took pictures with her classmates. “Congratulations, Class of 2022!”

UT SYSTEM, US ARMY FUTURES COMMAND ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP TO ACCELERATE INNOVATION IN TRAUMA CARE

The University of Texas System and the United States Army Futures Command (AFC) have formed an official educational and cooperative research partnership to advance medical science and technology to save lives both on and off the battlefield.

Since last year, leaders from the UT System, AFC, US Army Medical Research Command and US Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) have been exploring how to work together to solve some of the most critical issues affecting soldiers injured in combat.

On Tuesday, April 19, 2022, they formally signed two agreements to streamline collaboration between the military and UT institutions: an Educational Partnership Agreement and a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement.

The agreements will allow a continuous flow of resources, research and scientific expertise, focusing specifically on medical science and technological innovations.

“I can not emphasize how groundbreaking this will be,” said Lt. Gen. James Richardson, AFC acting commanding general. “This will allow opportunities for furthering research and expand capabilities for improving our work in the critical area of trauma care, which will extend to our future soldiers and also have impacts in our communities.”

The partnership will leverage the scale and expertise of the both the UT System and the Army, UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken said.

“The military brings to the table a substantial health research infrastructure, unrivaled experience in battlefield trauma, and the capacity to test innovations in the field,” Milliken said. “UT institutions offer an extensive basic and applied science infrastructure, a world-class system for conducting clinical trials, and some of the world’s most brilliant and innovative minds.”

During a Summit last year, researchers and military health specialists from AFC and the UT System emphasized the need to turn the “Golden Hour” into the “Golden Day,” referring to the timeframe following a battlefield wound when proper medical treatment is crucial to survival.

Following the Summit, several UT institutions and USAISR developed collaborating research proposals to address the underlying causes of tissue damage and novel treatment options following trauma.

The UT System and Army Futures Command anticipate that the new partnership will have long-lasting impacts on both soldiers as well as civilians who suffer traumatic injuries that land them in the emergency room.

The partnership also builds on numerous existing collaborations between the Army and UT institutions.

The UT System Board of Regents allocated $50 million to UT Austin to establish facilities to develop and test robotic systems and artificial intelligence through the new Robotics Center of Excellence.

Researchers at UT Arlington are studying the human dynamics of decision-making, and UT Dallas is creating chemically powered artificial muscles that could power robotic mules to serve as alternative Army vehicles.

UT San Antonio and UT El Paso are working with the Army to advance cybersecurity.

In addition, the UT System currently has several research projects with the Department of Defense to create more technologically advanced cybersecurity systems and to support the use of robotics in combat.

The collaboration aims to deliver breakthroughs in the science of combat casualty care, such as delivering oxygen to tissue, shock management, wound progression and infection, as well as physical pain or PTSD.

About The University of Texas System

For more than 130 years, The University of Texas System has been committed to improving the lives of Texans and people all over the world through education, research and health care.

With 13 institutions, an enrollment of more than 243,000 students and an operating budget of $23.4 billion (FY 2022), the UT System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States.

UT institutions produce more than 67,000 graduates annually and award more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees and more than half of its medical degrees. Collectively, UT-owned and affiliated hospitals and clinics accounted for more than 8.6 million outpatient visits and almost 1.8 million hospital days in 2020.

UT institutions also are among the most innovative in the world, collectively ranking No. 4 for most U.S. patents granted in 2020, and the UT System is No. 1 in Texas and No. 2 in the nation in federal research expenditures.

The UT System also is one of the largest employers in Texas, with more than 21,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and members of the National Academies – and more than 85,000 health care professionals, researchers and support staff.

About the Army Futures Command Army Futures Command

(AFC) leads the persistent modernization of the Army in order to provide future warfighters with the concepts, capabilities, and organizational designs needed to dominate a future battlefield.

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, AFC has more than 26,000 people worldwide.

The Army’s six modernization priorities are the focus of our eight Cross Functional Teams: Long Range Precision Fires; Next Generation Combat Vehicle; Future Vertical Lift; Army Network; Air and Missile Defense; Soldier Lethality; Assured Positioning Navigation Timing; and, Synthetic Training Environment.

The Artificial Intelligence Task Force and Army Applications Lab also support our efforts. Collaborating with entrepreneurs, scientists, industry, and academia, AFC strives to create the best solutions to keep Soldiers safe and America strong.

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Saira Cabrera and Karen Adler contributed to this article. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).

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