The resignation of Mart Police Chief Paul Cardenas, made final Thursday, will allow the city to move forward with plans to hire a new police chief soon, City Manager Kevin Schaffer said.

Cardenas, who became chief in March 2015, signed a separation agreement with the city Thursday afternoon. The agreement indicates the former chief will receive four months’ pay distributed on regular paydays, an honorable discharge from the department and a favorable letter of recommendation. The payments will total almost $18,000.

The departure is officially a voluntary resignation. The city council could take action on hiring a new chief as early as its next meeting, June 10.

“We made the right call in March of 2015 and we were impressed with what he did,” Schaffer said of Cardenas. “He did transform the Mart Police Department. He has laid a great foundation for the next chief to build upon.”

Until a new chief is in place, the city will be without its own police force. The department’s four patrol officers resigned earlier this month, citing dissatisfaction with city leadership and payroll issues. Their departures briefly left only Cardenas on the force.

Since Cardenas’ resignation was announced Tuesday, the city has received 12 applications for chief and six applications for patrol officers, Schaffer said.

“I am pleased with the response that we’ve received in 48 hours for qualified chiefs,” Schaffer said. “I am meeting with selected applicants to get their vision for the police department. Then from those conversations, I am going to select three or so to have the council to interview on June 10.”

Candidate offer

Schaffer said he anticipates the council making an offer to a candidate on June 10. He said pay will be based on years of experience and qualifications the council agrees are applicable to the chief’s role.

According to the separation agreement, Cardenas’ resignation effectively closes a complaint a resident filed against him earlier this month. Schaffer could not comment on whether the complaint was found to be valid but said the city is no longer looking into it.

A city official submitted a letter to the Tribune-Herald on Thursday that states the complaint was “not sustained.”

City attorney Charles Buenger declined to comment.

McLennan County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy David Kilcrease said Mart and the county do not have a formal agreement for regular patrols by deputies. However, deputies will respond to emergency calls for service, Kilcrease said.

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Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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