Lopez, Kirk to raise law enforcement standard
The new year brought new faces to the Falls County Sheriff’s Department and with them come new expectations for the department. Sheriff Joe Lopez, sworn in on January 1, has made it clear from his campaign that his number one goal is restoring trust in the sheriff’s department within the community.
The official, along with his Chief Deputy, Former Falls County Sheriff Ben Kirk, plan to build a ‘new and improved’ staff through re-training deputies to develop skills specific to those they serve. Lopez says he is also pursuing the expansion of patrol services to offer 24-hour services for county residents.
“You’re going to see the trust, we’re going to work hard to develop that trust that’s been lost,” the elected official told KWXT prior to taking office. “It’s a different department, we’re here, our guys are here, you call and we’ll be there.”
According to Lopez, his belief that Kirk would be a positive influence within the department was, in-part, why he wanted him as his Chief Deputy.
““I feel totally blessed on this deal; I asked him if he could come back and help me out,” he told the Waco Tribune. “We are both homegrown and have known each other a long time.”
Kirk served as Falls County Sheriff from 2001-2016, but his career with the department began many years prior. He and Lopez both worked as dispatchers for different departments through the mid 1970s. Eventually Lopez became a deputy within the department, working under Kirk at one point in time, prior to working with the Hays County DA’s Office.
Sheriff Lopez convinced the 45 year law enforcement veteran to come out of retirement upon his election.
“Ben just brings a vast amount of experience, and his manner, how he can control a situation and talk to people,” Lopez said of his longtime colleague. “He is the type of person that even I can learn from with all his experience.”
Kirk replaced Derick Johnson, who moved from chief deputy under Ricky Scaman to a captain in Lopez’s detective section.
Scaman lost his bid for re-election to Lopez, a democrat, after being named in a five-count indictment with charges including sexualt assault, assault on a public servant, and official oppression. The suspended peace officer, who was defeated by Ben Kirk during his first run for office in 2012, remains free on bail and continues to deny the charges, claiming they were motivated by ‘politics and greed.’
running for reelection while under felony indictment and with a suspended peace officer’s license. Kirk also defeated Scaman in Scaman’s first bid for sheriff in 2012.
Scaman, who remains free on bail, was named in a five-count indictment last year that charges him with sexual assault, assault on a public servant and official oppression of two women, allegations investigated by the Texas Rangers and prosecuted by the state attorney general’s office.
He has denied the charges and said they were motivated by “politics and greed.”
Kirk says he plans upfront and honest in his position, which he is happy that he has chosen to return to.
“I have to admit, it feels great to be back,” the Chief Deputy told Fox44. “And I will do the best job that I can for the sheriff and the citizens of this county.”
Lopez is confident that the new, higher, standard they are setting as an agency will weed out any bad apples.
“Those who do wrong, realize who’s here now. And the staff that I’ve got. And we tend to business, and we find out what you’re into, and we’re going to put a stop to it,” he said.