Digging deeper: Who is Port Arthur's new police chief?

Patrick Melvin, Port Arthur's new police chief, just got into town this week. He takes over the job for Mark Blanton, who retired this spring.

Patrick Melvin, Port Arthur's new police chief, just got into town this week. He takes over the job for Mark Blanton, who retired this spring. 

"The first couple days have been very exciting," Melvin told 12News reporter Brandi Smith in a one-on-one interview. "I look forward to the opportunity to work here and be a part of the community." 

Melvin's resume reveals that until now, he spent his entire 31-year career in Arizona. Twenty-one of those were in Phoenix before he started a police department in neighboring Maricopa.

"My badge number was literally 001. I was the very first employee," said Melvin. "I wasn't the smartest guy in the world, but I was smart enough to hire people who were very smart. That's what made that opportunity very successful."

Five years later, Melvin accepted the chief position in Salt River, a tribal community just outside of Phoenix. Most headlines about Melvin stem from this period, including those addressing his decision to pull out of a gang unit.

"We were having a manpower shortage, just like a lot of departments throughout the nation," Melvin said.

When he became a finalist for the chief job in Phoenix this spring, Salt River's council placed him on administrative leave and Melvin decided to resign.

Around the same time, former Port Arthur Chief Mark Blanton retired, prompting the nationwide search that got Melvin's attention.

"It had the opportunity for us to be in an environment where we had family and friends, plus the fit of the police department seemed like a good fit for me also," said Melvin, who was born in Houston.

He made it into the Top 5, but Melvin wasn't No. 1.

"Some people are great on paper, some people aren't. It just so happens, he didn't do so well in those early interviews," said Brian McDougal, Port Arthur's city manager.

Jesus Campa topped the list, followed by Henry Porretto (who withdrew his name), Jeff Fant and Arthur Barclay. Melvin came in at No. 5.

"I'm humbled by that. I didn't realize I was No. 5 of five," he said.

McDougal said the turning point came during last month's public forum with the four finalists.

"Melvin clearly stood out when it came to public speaking and that type of skill," said the city manager. "The citizens who were at that event all pretty much thought he was the best candidate as well."

"That's my comfort level is being involved in the community," Melvin explained. "I think it's very important to treat all of our community members with dignity and respect."

On Sept. 29, Port Arthur's city council voted unanimously to hire Melvin as department head, a title he'll hold until he passes his Texas certification and can be named chief.

"He's already started the process. It's just a matter of getting the test passed," said McDougal.

Now that Melvin is on the ground in Port Arthur, he says he's ready to get to work, starting with filling the department's 16 vacancies.

"We like to have a philosophy of 'Hire here, retire here,' so we're looking for people to spend some time here with Port Arthur and make it the place where they retire," Melvin said.

As for his other priorities, he said those will come as he gets to know Port Arthur.

"I'm going to sit back and watch and learn my department first before those changes are going to be made, but I'm sure there will be changes," said Melvin.

The city will pay Melvin $119,000, a significant pay cut from the more than $201,000 he made during his last year in Salt River. Melvin said, while compensation is important, sometimes fit is more important and he thinks Port Arthur is a great fit for him and his wife.

Watch the full interview with Melvin here:

 

(© 2016 KBMT)


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