Cardenas

Paul Cardenas

Mart City Council has selected its interim police chief to head the department on a permanent basis.

Paul Cardenas, who served as interim chief since early January, was hired Monday during the city council meeting.

Mayor Len Williams said the city held an extensive search to fill the position and received more than 30 applicants.

“We were very, very happy with our response, as to the quality of people that applied,” Williams said.

Cardenas’ salary was set at $42,000, Councilman Kevin Schaffer said.

The council narrowed the applicants to four finalists, who were interviewed at the meeting Monday.

Schaffer said the group included Cardenas, two people from Central Texas and a fourth who dropped out after the council informed him it would not conduct an interview via Skype, a video communication application.

Cardenas had been a Mart police officer for 10 months before the city named him interim chief after the city council unanimously accepted the resignation of former Police Chief David Monthey in January.

Schaffer said Cardenas is easy to work with and already has implemented new policies and procedures to correct missteps.

“He might have had the slight advantage since we kind of knew what he’s like as a chief and as an officer,” Schaffer said.

Cardenas hired a second officer a few months ago and plans to fill the last police opening soon, Schaffer said. At full force, the department operates with a police chief and three officers.

Before joining Mart, Cardenas spent four months with the McGregor Police Department as a patrolman. Prior to that, he spent four years with the U.S. Army as an intelligence analyst, where he was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, and started his law enforcement career with the West Police Department.

Cardenas did not return messages for comment.

Williams said Cardenas’ résumé stood out because of his work as an investigator in the military police, small-town police work and performance as the city’s interim chief.

Cardenas has worked closely with the school district since coming on board, Williams said. He started a program to allow Mart ISD students the chance to design a new patch for the police officers’ uniforms. He also is working to upgrade the department’s technology, Williams said.

“He’s been a very loyal and hardworking employee,” Williams said. “We’re excited about the opportunity for him to improve the department.”

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