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- Leo Samaniego
- Leo Samaniego(1932-2007) was born in El Paso, Texas May 7, 1932. He was the ninth of 10 children born to Leonardo & Carmen Samaniego. He attended Morehead Elementary School & El Paso High School. He served five (5) years in the U.S. Navy 1951-1956. Began his career in law enforcement with the El Paso Police Department where he served for 28 years; starting out as a patrolman & retiring in January 1984 as Deputy Chief of Police. While at the Police Department, he established the 1st Crime stoppers in Texas. In 1972, he graduated from the FBI National Academy. Elected as Sheriff of El Paso County in November 1984, taking office January 1, 1985. Re-elected Sheriff five terms in November 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 & 2004. Sheriff Samaniego was completing his 6th four year term when he passed away Friday, December 28, 2007 after a long battle with cancer. Sheriff Samaniego is forever remembered as "The Peoples Sheriff" once stating; "I'm a perfectionist. Wherever I go, I'm going to stir the pot & make things better"- said Sheriff Leo Samaniego in 2006 interview.
- Despite his passing in December 2007, the late Sheriff Leo Samaniego will always be regarded as a man of integrity with almost 50 years of experience in law enforcement. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office, under the direction of Sheriff Samaniego achieved professional milestones by demonstrating proven leadership in law enforcement. The leadership of the Office was exemplified by achieving national recognition in March 2001 as the First Sheriff's office in the State of Texas to be honored with accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., a voluntary process by which agencies choose to stand out as exceptional.
- As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of El Paso County Sheriff Samaniego was recognized as a leader in developing numerous law enforcement initiatives. He was a leader in crime prevention programs also formed the West Texas Multi-County Task Force during the Mid-80s; the task force has been recognized on several occasions as the best in Texas. The El Paso County Metro Narcotics Task Force was created in the early 90s to replace Multi-County Task Force.
- Throughout the years under the direction of Sheriff Samaniego, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office
grew from a five-man department operating a two-cell jail, to currently employing approximately 1000 employees and managing two facilities. The Downtown Detention Center has the capacity to house 1,024 inmates (1,008). At the Jail annex we also have the capability of housing 1,450 prisoners (1,440). The total area of Law Enforcement responsibility is 1,058 square miles.
- The Texas Commission on Jail Standards has recognized the El Paso County Sheriff's Office has amongst the best-run facilities in the state. The Downtown facility was built in 1983. The Jail Annex was opened in 1997. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office will process more than 47,000 people yearly through the two facilities. On average the agency will serve more than 2.4 million meals daily at a cost of 53 cents a plate on average. The meals are well balanced and meet all of the criteria set forth by local, state and federal standards. Sheriff Samaniego signed agreements with the Federal Government to house some of their prisoners. The reimbursements for that service continue today as savings for the taxpayer Sheriff Samaniego instituted years ago.
- Sheriff Samaniego was so confident of his Office to pass a state jail inspection; he instituted a pro-active inspection program in 2000. The program called for the Detention Facility and the Jail Annex to be prepared to pass a surprise inspection any day of the week or at anytime of the day. Since the state at the time was unable to publicly praise the El Paso County Sheriff's Office for the expert handling of the jails, Sheriff Leo Samaniego ordered his staff to work toward one goal; to be the first county jail to be nationally accredited in Texas.
- The goal to become nationally accredited by the American Corrections Association (ACA) shortly followed. The Sheriff set a goal to accomplish this task in 2003.
- Sheriff Samaniego was always moved & honored by remarks he often received from other agencies recognizing the El Paso County Sheriff's Office as a team player in community relations. The Motto of the Sheriff's Office developed by Sheriff Samaniego is plain and simple "We serve with Pride!" The Patrol Division, Criminal Investigations Division and Special Operations Division are constantly asked by other agencies to partner in various crime initiatives.
- The El Paso County Sheriff's Office serves the rural or county population; however, always to the eyes of Sheriff Samaniego, the Sheriff's Office served all of the 700,000 El Pasoans. Sheriff Samaniego always took the citizens safety seriously and always welcomed the opportunity to make sure El Paso remained as one of the safest and best communities in the nation.
- What did Sheriff Samaniego do for the Office since he was elected Sheriff? The ElPaso County Sheriff's Office is the first Nationally Accredited Sheriff's Department in the state of Texas. There are only 55 sheriff's agencies nationwide to achievethis recognition. The El Paso County Sheriff's Department now ranks among these few specially credited departments as having undergone the strict compliance mandates issued by the Commission on Accreditation better known as "The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA).
- The Commission reports that agencies who have been accredited and whose officers act in accordance with CALEA standards and department policy have experienced an overall reduction in lawsuits by almost 20%, with the amount of punitive damages reduced by as much as 67%. Financial loss in any organization affects everyone. From personnel wages to purchase power for capital improvements and equipment, every organization strives to limit its loss to provide for a better working environment. Sheriff Samaniego was a firm believer in accountability. Accreditation provides you the taxpayer that accountability.
- Still other benefits include making our community more attractive to economic and community development. It will also assure our governmental leaders of the quality of law enforcement and the taxpayers' return on their investment. Furthermore, it will provide international recognition and provide a venue for employee morale and pride by ensuring that our agency follows sound, established policies, which are solidly documented and recognized by our industry. Sheriff Samaniego yet set goal; to become nationally accredited by the American Corrections Association (ACA).
- What did the uniforms look like when the Sheriff took office and why did he change them (what color and why that color)? The uniform prior to Sheriff's arrival was a brown western style pant and shirt. The gray uniform was incorporated as part of his transformation of the image of the department in 1986. The Gray uniform was once recognized as the second best Sheriff's uniform in the nation according to Law and Order Magazine.
- Has the Department patch been changed and if so who designed the patch and what does it mean? Sheriff Leo Samaniego designed the patch, adopted in 1986, worn by the officers of El Paso County Sheriff's office. Depicted are three of many cultures that settled the Southwest. Represented are the Native Indian, Spanish Conquistador, and the American Cowboy, bordered by bannersof the State of Texas "Lone Star" flag.
- Sheriff Leo Samaniego who passed away December 28, 2007. Just before his death, Leo Samaniego prepared a statement which was made public hours after his passing. The letter read;
- I have not given up the fight to beat this disease. If I die from this disease, I am expressing my sincere wish to the El Paso County Commissioner's Court to appoint Jimmy Apodaca as Sheriff of El Paso County to finish the remainder of my term that expires on December 31, 2008. It is still my dream to turn over a key to the next Sheriff of a fully accredited Sheriff's office, to include the training academy and dispatch offices. We will be the only Sheriff's office in the State of Texas to have more than four accreditations.
- Leo Samaniego, Sheriff
- El Paso County Sheriff's Office