SHAVANO PARK — When recalling the most important lessons he’s learned in a 30-year career in military and civilian law enforcement, two quickly come to mind for Gene Fox.
“Don’t take anything for granted, and never say nothing is going to happen,” said the city’s new police chief.
The City Council voted Nov. 23 to promote Fox, who was a captain. He succeeded Chuck Pinto, who served as the interim top cop for a few weeks following Ray Lacy’s October retirement. Lacy spent four years at the helm.
Fox said while crime in Shavano Park pales in comparison to San Antonio, wrongdoing still occurs. Thus, he plans to enhance the Police Department’s crime-control and prevention assets.
A native Nebraskan, the Air Force veteran spent most of the 1990s as a K-9 handler for security forces in Wyoming and South Korea. His then-wife, also, was in the military. A special-duty assignment brought them to San Antonio in 1998.
Fox worked one year as a detention officer with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office. He also was in the Air Force Reserve, based for five years out of Brooks Air Force Base as a law-enforcement flight chief.
While a reservist, Fox’s civilian law-enforcement career led him to a three-year stint as a Hill Country Village patrolman, and later as a detective.
He was promoted to police sergeant in early 2012, lieutenant in November 2017, and retired from Hill Country Village in November 2019 to accept a captain’s position with the Shavano Park Police Department.
Fox had worked with Lacy prior to his arrival in Shavano Park, so he was already familiar with the area.
When Lacy decided to end a 40-year career in law enforcement, the city advertised the job opening, drawing 22 applications.
A committee, including Pinto, reviewed the candidates and unanimously endorsed Fox.
Lacy’s retirement letter also backed Fox. During November’s council session, he said his colleague had performed “exceptional work” for the force.
Mayor Bob Werner said promoting Fox was “an easy decision.”
“When a community loses as fine a leader as Chief Ray Lacy, it often struggles to find a suitable replacement,” Werner said. “Following the evaluation process, I am very pleased that Shavano Park has hired Chief Gene Fox as our new police chief. He possesses a breadth of knowledge and experience comparable to Chief Lacy, and with his Shavano Park experience, he is ready to hit the road running.”
Alderman Lee Powers, speaking as both a municipal official and local business owner, said he places high importance on institutional knowledge of a city department.
“Like a relay race, you hand off to your successor and if it’s one that you recommend, one that is not only appreciated but approved by the rank and file such as the situation here, I think we can do nothing wrong by approving (Fox),” Powers said. “I think he is an ideal choice.”
Fox already is working to ensure the department is reaccredited as a Texas Law Enforcement Best Practices agency. The reaccreditation process happens every four years, with the next opportunity in February 2022.
“It’s a lengthy process, so we have to start a year in advance,” he added. “That’s the main priority right now. In order for us to do that, we have to review and update policies.”
Dennis Kelley, who succeeds Fox as a police captain, will head the best practices program. Kelley last served with the Alamo Heights Police Department.
“My main concern is to keep things moving along smoothly like they have been the last several years under Chief Lacy and focus on Texas best practices reaccreditation. After that, we can look at anything else we can enhance,” Fox said.
He also looks forward to post-pandemic activities where police can more directly engage residents in the local Neighborhood Watch, “Coffee with a Cop” and other community outreach programs.
The new chief said the department will keep focusing on training officers: “How my officers react when (a crime) does happen is going to come down to their training and everything else.”
Officials said latest figures indicate a moderate rise in offenses.
By the end of October 2020, police handled 118 total criminal calls, 23 for theft. The city recorded 88 total criminal calls in 2019.