SAN ANTONIO – The Bexar County Sheriff's Office on Saturday unveiled its first ever permanent substation on the Northeast side, named in honor of Sgt. Kenneth Gary Vann who was killed in the line of duty in 2011.
The 13,500 substation, located 8794 Northeast Loop 1604 in Converse, Texas, took approximately two years to complete. The substation was created with the goal of reducing response times to calls and to strengthen relations with the community.
Yvonne Vann, the widow of Sgt. Kenneth Gary Vann, said she was overwhelmed with pride and joy at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday.
"(The Sheriff's Office) is my extended family as well, so to see this come to fruition -- all the hard work and the dedication, the man hours and the time and the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into this," Yvonne Vann said.
She said if her husband could see the substation, he'd likely joke "It's about time y'all name something after me," adding that he would, of course, follow with a response of humility.
The substation, Yvonne Vann said, is an assurance that those who come through the facility "will know all about (Kenneth Vann) and know about his service and his sacrifice."
Kenneth Vann was fatally shot while stopped at a traffic light in an ambush-style attack. His killer, Mark Anthony Gonzalez, was sentenced to death in 2016.
"To commemorate him and to commemorate his memory -- the fact that he's not gone, the fact that he's not forgotten," Yvonne Vann said of the substation. "But mostly that he still lives and he'll be here through the hallways, through this substation, through the men and women that still work here at the Bexar County Sheriff's Office that he knew and loved and worked with and those that are coming through the Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff Javier Salazar said that while the main purpose of the facility is to house law enforcement operations, the substation is open to the public for community meetings, crime prevention training and other activities.
"We want the community to feel welcome here," Salazar said.
Through the years, the Sheriff's Office has been housed in old schools, condemned buildings and portable buildings. Salazar said the substation will likely give members of the Sheriff's Office a bump in morale.
"This is something that takes things to a whole new level," Salazar said. "I think that if you give deputies a nice facility to work within, you treat them as if they're treasured -- which they absolutely are -- they're going to certainly reflect that in their quality of work."
The Sheriff's Office plans on opening another substation near the Dominguez state jail in Far West Bexar County in the coming weeks.