Jose Banales said he’s ready to be a police chief, even if that means leaving the only department he’s ever known.
The San Antonio assistant chief, who was commissioned as a police officer in 1983, said he plans to retire from his current position within the next 18 months. In the meantime, he’s decided to explore options for becoming chief elsewhere.
“I'm coming to the realization that I can't stay in San Antonio forever,” said Banales, 53, in an interview with the Star-Telegram Tuesday.
Banales, who was born in Mexico and raised in El Paso, was one of four finalists for the Aurora, Colo. police chief job in January.
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In San Antonio, he rose through the ranks from sergeant to assistant chief over the operations bureau by 2010. He oversaw the department’s Crime Control Strategic Plan,which targeted car burglaries, graffiti, prostitution and drug trafficking. He also managed a program to install dash cameras in police cars, starting in 2011.
In 2002, he was suspended 30 days without pay after he was pulled over in an unmarked police car on suspicion of drunken driving, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
An undercover officer spotted Banales’ car swerving across Interstate 10. According to the newspaper’s story, Banales refused to take a field sobriety test. An hour and a half later, he took breath test and blew a 0.078, just below the 0.08 level of legal intoxication.
Banales was not charged with a crime, but an internal investigation found he violated three department rules: using intoxicants that made him unfit for duty, improperly using city equipment and bringing discredit to the department, the Express-News reported.
It was a mistake he learned from, he said Tuesday.
“I think the first thing that I did was accept responsibility for that lapse in judgment — I did not try to rationalize it,” Banales said. “It was a hard lesson learned, and I learned the value of holding myself to a higher level of accountability.”
In Fort Worth, Banales said he wants to improve the diversity of the police force.
“I want to make the department reflect the composition of the city,” he said.
A graduate of the FBI National Academy, Banales helped establish the Southwest Texas Fusion Center, which provides resources for detecting and responding to criminal and terrorist activity.
Banales said he has also been involved with the George Gervin Youth Center in San Antonio. He advocated for first-time and non-violent offenders to have their records expunged so they could find work after leaving the center.
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7684
Background in brief
Past jobs: sergeant, lieutenant, captain, deputy chief, currently assistant chief, San Antonio.
Education: Bachelor’s of criminal justice management, Texas State University; master’s of management and leadership, Webster University; graduate of the FBI National Academy.