New Bexar County sheriff changes leadership structure

Salazar plans to name final two positions of command staff soon

SAN ANTONIO – New Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar is already shaking things up by altering the organizational chart of the Sheriff Office’s command staff.

In the chambers of the Commissioners Court on Thursday night, Salazar named eight of 10 leadership positions, which included the addition of two assistant chiefs. Don Tijerina will assume the role of chief deputy, second in command. Tijerina has more than 20 years of experience in the Sheriff’s Office.

Under him, Salazar named Dale Bennett as assistant chief of law enforcement, overseeing patrol, tactical support and the criminal investigation division. Salazar said plans are in the works to create a full-time SWAT team, of which there are already existing members in part-time roles.

James Serrato, a 28-year veteran of the San Antonio Police Department, will serve as assistant chief, chief of staff, overseeing mostly administrative departments, including the training academy, budget and fleet and facilities.

Salazar did not name an assistant chief over detention.

“I wanted to create more distributed control,” said Salazar about the addition of assistant chiefs. “They allowed us to break up the division that existed between law enforcement and (the) detention side.”

Salazar promoted mostly from within but did bring in a former Drug Enforcement Agency veteran, Nancy Sanford, to serve as deputy chief over the criminal investigation division. Sanford spent three decades with the DEA as a special agent, working in San Antonio during most of her career.

“Law enforcement's a family, and I just enjoy that camaraderie, that teamwork," said Sanford, who retired from the DEA less than two years ago. "When the sheriff approached me about it, I didn't even have a second thought.”

“She (Sanford) brings a unique twist to the command staff, and we're hoping that'll help round us out quite a bit,” Salazar said. “We wanted to have better control, better accountability, over some of the investigations that were going on.”

Salazar plans to name the final two positions of his command staff soon.