ODEM, Texas — The City of Odem has established a brand new police department that has been up and running since January, and residents said it's been generating both compliments and complaints.
Gerald Ochoa has been the Odem Police Chief since October, but the department wasn't official until January, and they have been busy. The City went from four citations a month to more than 200.
The majority of those tickets were for traffic violations, but other crimes are being handled as well.
Currently, Ochoa and his officers work from 7a.m.-10 p.m., but dispatch is handled by the San Patricio County Sheriff's Office from 5 p.m.-8 a.m. In the past, the City has contracted for police services from both the county and the city of Sinton.
While social media complaints have focused on traffic citations, Chief Ochoa said all complaints are being handled by his department, which he hopes eventually will have nine officers.
"It's something different to the City of Odem. Of course we have a lot of people that are pro-police. They love what we're doing. We do have some people that get upset about the citations that we're giving and so on, but it's an enforcement that we need," Ochoa said. "This enforcement is something that we get complaints of speeders. We get complaints of people passing stop signs and so on, so it's something that we need to enforce."
"Why pay $200,000 a year when we can have our own for $150,000 a year, plus police protection would be local?" Odem Mayor Billy Huerta said.
Huerta said some 28,000 vehicles a day travel through Odem along Highway 77 and the department was very much needed.
Chief Ochoa, who has 23 years of experieince in law enforcement in South Texas, plans to deliver his first quarterly report to Odem's City Council at their next meeting.
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