July 31, 2017
Chief Eric Mendez
July 31, 2017—Eric Mendez hasn’t lived near his mother since 1987.
CFISD’s new chief of police was in high school in Corpus Christi. His mother Frances moved to Houston in a transfer with her job and Mendez stayed behind to finish his senior year. For most of the time since, Frances has been trying to get her son closer as well.
It took 20-plus years, but the moving trucks are finally heading toward Houston.
“She’s very excited and can’t wait to get us there,” Mendez said Monday in Austin, where he served on the Austin ISD police force since 1999. “(Monday), the moving company was here and she’s already called me a couple times wanting to know how things are going with the move.”
Mendez was announced as chief of police for CFISD on May 1, as he replaced now retired Chief Alan Bragg. The chief for Austin ISD the last five years, Mendez spend nine years with the Kingsville Police Department before joining Austin ISD in 1999.
Family is important to Mendez. Moving to CFISD also puts Mendez and his family closer to his brother and sister-in-law Becky Mendez, an assistant principal at Postma Elementary School.
It’s one of two points he routinely shared with fellow officers in Austin looking to move to another school district or department. The other is whether the move is good for professional growth.
Mendez couldn’t answer “yes” to both questions – until now.
He brings with him a philosophy of having his department be a vital part of the education process. It’s using a teachable moment when the opportunity lends itself instead of waiting to learn as an adult and possibly do so without the option of leniency.
“I also want the officers – whenever applicable – to get in the classroom and provide educational presentations that give our students information to grow and learn,” said Mendez, who led an effort last year that totaled 365 presentations to roughly 16,000 students.
“Oftentimes, people see the police and think of a negative. It’s not negative. It’s about being positive – building positive relationships – and doing the things that help make students successful. So whatever that takes, that’s what we’re going to do.”
In part of doing what he can, Mendez has already set a goal of visiting all 91 CFISD schools within a two-week period near the start of the school year. Though lofty on the surface, Mendez was able to do the same with Austin ISD, which includes 130 schools and covers just over 230 square miles.
But it isn’t all work for Mendez, who describes himself as an avid sports fan. That’s especially the case with football.
“I’m afraid to say this one, but I’m a huge Cowboys fan,” said Mendez, also a Texas Longhorns supporter after spending 15 seasons working games for the college football program. “Moving to the Houston area is going to be a little bit of a challenge for me being around Texans fans.”
But it’s a challenge he and his family welcome.
“We’re looking forward to the new adventure,” Mendez said.