A Robstown police officer is among the five Democratic candidates running for Precinct 5 constable in light of the pending retirement of Constable Mike Roldan in December.

Lt. Gilbert Gomez says his law enforcement and administrative experience and his commitment to community policing make him the person to succeed Roldan.

"I've been talking about running for probably about five years," Gomez said. "Some of the reasons I'm running for this office are because I think I have a lot to contribute to the community based on my leadership and experience and education, and I want to be in a position where I can expand that and help people in a broader range."

Precinct 5 encompasses 320 square miles, bordered on the west by Jim Wells County, FM 1694 on the east, San Patricio County to the north, and Driscoll city limits on the south. The constable's office has 13 full-time officers and serves as the principal policing agency for Agua Dulce, Banquete and Bluntzer, while also covering Robstown.

Gomez, 47, is a life-long Robstown resident and 1978 graduate of Robstown High School. This is his first attempt for elected office.

Gomez began his law enforcement career in 1984 as a correctional officer for the Nueces County Sheriff's Department. He joined the Robstown Police Department in 1985 and became the first law enforcement educator at Robstown High School in 1989.

Gomez was promoted sergeant in 1989 and was RPD chief of police from June 1998 through October 2003. He became a lieutenant in March and is one of the top three officers in the 25-person Robstown Police Department.

Gomez said he is proud of his accomplishments as chief, including reducing crime rates four out of his five years as chief.

"We took an aggressive attitude toward criminal elements," he said. "We implemented a strong community policing effort in the community to encourage people to report crimes."

Gomez said more witnesses gave information, helping police solve crimes and thwart suspicious activity.

Gomez said he is also proud of a six- to 12-week field training officers program he implemented as chief.

"It used to be, when I was hired, that you road around with a senior officer for a couple days, and then you were on your own," he said. "This program, what it's designed to do, is have newly hired officers under the direction of a field training officer, which not only teaches them some of the basic things that need to be done, but also some of the rules and guidelines and police procedures."

Gomez said his goals are to professionalize the constable's office with improved hiring requirements and training, setting physical agility standards to join, updating equipment and technology, and improving record keeping and communication between the constable's office and the community.

Gomez said he would implement neighborhood meetings, a crime prevention program, and a foot patrol program like he did as chief, while re-establishing a bike patrol unit and working with community organizations, judges, school officials and parents on truancy and drug and gang prevention issues.

"We also need to make the department where the community not only feels confident calling us, but also that we serve them and they have the confidence in calling us and giving us information," Gomez said. "Let the people know this department exists for them. I feel I'm the person that can make that happen and expand that and not be satisfied with the way things are or have been, but move forward."

Gomez also said he would like to establish a narcotics unit, create a highway interdiction task force, establish local agreements with other law enforcement agencies and use seized funds to combat drug activity and for scholarships for students interested in law enforcement careers.

"I think that property crimes and narcotics are two of our biggest issues, which they go hand in hand," he said. "These people that are attics need to find money some way to purchase narcotics, which leads to property crimes."

Gomez said he also wants to establish proficiency pay for officers and a complaint procedure for citizens, while working with the commissioner's court to increase personnel and with local governments to combine resources to combat community crime issues.

"I think I'm the one with the most experience and is most qualified for the job, because I've been an administrator," he said.

Gomez, the son of Guadalupe and the late Gil Gomez, graduated from Del Mar College and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi with degrees in criminal justice. His law enforcement credentials are numerous, including licenses as a Master Peace Officer and Law Enforcement Instructor, and 4,747 total hours of law enforcement education and training.

He has been married to Antonia "Toni" Gomez for 27 years and the couple has two children, one of whom attends Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the other Robstown High School.

Gomez founded the RHS Law Enforcement Explorers Club, is a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 3110, and is vice president de La Sociedad Guadalupana de La Mission Santa Maria at St. Anthony's Parish, and was a member of the former Optimist Club.