Robert Martin new Alpine police chief

ALPINE – Robert Martin is the new Alpine police chief. He was chosen late Wednesday after an extended city council closed-door executive session. Other candidates were former chief deputy and Fort Stockton Police Chief Ryan Skelton and acting chief, Captain Darrell Losoya.

Martin, who is 60, has 23 years in law enforcement, including two years at Ector County Sheriff’s Office where he served on the Permian Basin Task Force. He served 18 years in a supervisory role at the Katy Police Department and almost three years with the Brewster County Sheriff’s Office.

His latest assignment was as a security officer assigned to the Brewster County Courthouse.

Martin is a graduate of LEMIT –– the Law Enforcement Specialized Management Training Academy.

“I attended Alpine High School and have always considered Alpine my home,” he said.

He is married with seven daughters and five grandchildren.

Last week, council hired David Hale as building official. He formerly served in similar positions in Hutchins and Grapevine. He told the council in his 30 years of experience, he has kept an open-door policy to help builders understand the need for compliance with codes.

Hale said he wants to see Alpine grow, and that the city “can do more to do than it thinks it can.”

His wife and two children look forward to living here, he said.

Martin replaces Chief Russell Scown who had reached retirement age. Scown’s wife Panchi has accepted a job as high school principal in Bonham northeast of Dallas.

Several department heads resigned or retired reportedly because of problems with former City Manager Jessica Garza, who was fired in August over problems including personnel issues and delays in getting budget figures to council in time for the new fiscal year in October.

City Finance Director Megan Antrim was the first to come back after resigning in a dispute with Garza. Former City Manager Erik Zimmer returned to his old job shortly after Garza was terminated and Antrim agreed to return.

Mayor Pro Tem Rick Stephens said when Zimmer was originally hired in 2013, the city “didn’t have two nickels to rub together.” Before he left in 2017, Zimmer and Antrim had worked together and put city finances in order. The debt had been cut nearly in half in that time from around $10 million in an $11 million budget to less than $6 million in a $12 million budget.

Zimmer told city council last week that he has hired most of the positions to replace the five department heads that have resigned or retired. Since then, the city has hired Antrim, Martin, Hale and Scott Perry as utilities director.

Normally, the city manager interviews candidates for department heads and hires with “advice and consent” of the council, which this time opted to get involved in interviewing for police chief.

The only vacancy in department heads is public works, and Zimmer said he has a candidate to present to city council next week.

“Four down one to go,” he said.