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Donna welcomes new police chief

The Donna Police Department has a new police chief.

Gilbert Guerrero is no stranger to Donna.

Guerrero grew up in Donna, served on the Donna Independent School District school board and city council, and now, he holds another important role: police chief.

Guerrero previously worked for the Pharr Police Department, climbing up the ranks from patrol officer, to sergeant, to lieutenant, before retiring after 20 years. He moved to work as an investigator for the Texas Attorney General's Office, focusing on white-collar crime, like money laundering and fraud.

Guerrero says in the past, arrests were not being made and crime tips were overlooked.

"An officer, he came in and told me, 'Sir, I haven't used my 'cuffs in a year. My handcuffs are rusty,'' said Guerrero. "I asked him why and he said, 'We couldn't arrest people.' In all my years of law enforcement, I've never heard that. I couldn't believe it."

But now that he's chief, all that is changing.

"We've arrested more people, we're enforcing the law," said Guerrero. "I've got guys going out there looking at stash houses, drug houses, doing surveillance, be[ing] more active. I want them out there not just sitting in an office, I want them out there working for the people. "

And Donna police officers say they feel more efficient with the new changes Guerrero is implementing.

"Since Chief Guerrero got here about two weeks ago, our patrol division and investigators have been more productive," said Lt. Rene Rosas who has served the department for over 20 years. "We're more aggressive now and we treat our people the best that we can. There was something missing and Chief Guerrero came in and told us just to do our job and that's what we're doing."

Guerrero tells CBS 4 News his main focus is winning the community's trust back. Another big focus for him is combining forces at the federal and state levels. Guerrero plans to apply for several federal grants to help with funds needed around the department. Those funds could be used for new equipment, a new police department and even higher salaries for officers.

"These are things I want to focus on," said Guerrero. "These officers work very hard and they deserve to have a nice building. This one is over 40 years old and they don't get paid very well."

Since starting, Guerrero has already assigned an officer to the Homeland Security's Task Force. Guerrero says he's willing to work harder, come in earlier, work later, and do whatever it takes to make sure the city is a safer place.

"The judge is going to be busy, that's for sure," said Guerrero. "There's no more arresting people and letting them out the back door in the jail. There's a new administration and we're ready to change that attitude."

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