Damian Hernandez named interim Presidio Police Department chief

PRESIDIO — At a special-called city council meeting last week, Presidio Police Department Sergeant Damian Hernandez was promoted to the position of interim chief. Hernandez will serve as interim chief for the next six months, after which he’ll be up for a performance review in front of City Council. 

Hernandez was one of three internal candidates selected from a pool of existing police department staff, and his new title was approved by a unanimous vote after council members emerged from a lengthy executive session. 

Hernandez’s promotion came just two weeks after former Chief Margarito Hernandez was given an official reprimand by the city for failing to follow reporting guidelines for the Operation Lone Star grant program. The program — which funds projects and equipment benefiting law enforcement and related agencies in Texas border counties — required monthly reports from beneficiaries about border-related incidents. 

Former Chief Hernandez stepped down that Thursday, expressing in his resignation letter that he wished to return to serving as a patrol officer. With his help, the city worked to fill out the overdue paperwork — the city will miss out on around $212,000 in grant funds this fiscal year, but prior funding will not be affected and will be available again in 2024. 

Mayor John Ferguson explained that because former Chief Hernandez wanted to remain on the force, the city’s budget prohibited bringing in an outsider — the new chief would have to be promoted from within. 

Despite those constraints, he had known Damian Hernandez since his time at Presidio High School and was excited about his fresh perspective — though with just six years of experience, he had served as second-in-command to the former chief and learned critical skills. “We are blessed to have such good people,” he said. “[Hernandez] really, really enjoys his work in Presidio.” 

Hernandez joined the Presidio Police Department in 2019, after a year-and-a-half stint with the Brewster County Sheriff’s Office in Lajitas. In order to be closer to home and his young family, he transferred back to his home turf. “My experience and what I have to give my community — that’s what made me throw my name in,” he said. 

One of his major goals is improving relationships with younger Presidians — he felt it was a relatively common practice for parents to threaten their children with getting in trouble with the police for misbehavior. “We’re there to help them and be there for them,” he said. 

Overall, he said his intention was to always put his hometown first. “The biggest thing for me is being that link between the community and the police,” he said.