PALESTINE, Texas (KETK) – Who would have blamed Rudy Flores if had decided to hang up his badge for good when he retired in 2015 after a 33-year career in law enforcement.
He already had a long stint in the Texas Rangers, worked as a Galveston Police officer, a Galveston County Sheriff’s Deputy and a DPS trooper. And he was enjoying a more recent chapter in his life as a co-founder Texas Forensics Associates, a Palestine company that teaches and performs forensic investigations.
He planned to begin taking it easy and to spend more time with his family.
But something wasn’t quite right. He missed being a law officer.
“I kept thinking about returning to law enforcement and public service,” he said.
Four-term incumbent Greg Taylor announced in January 2019 he would not be seeking re-election as sheriff of Anderson County, a position he had held for 14 years.
The Republican primary for sheriff drew Flores and Frankston PD officer Jeff Taylor, no relationship to Greg Taylor. No Democrats sought the office.
Flores, a Palestine resident who had never run for public office, campaigned he was the right person for the job because he had decades of experience and was good at working with other law officers.
He campaigned as the person with “experience you can count on.”
He’s an expert in analyzing bloodstain pattern, reconstructing shooting scenes and homicide investigations. As a Texas Ranger, he was a crime-scene response team leader and served on a cold case review team member.
“I have worked a lot of major cases,” Flores said in his office. “And a lot of violent crimes.”
He told voters that he was running to bring “positive change” and promised to more often collaborate with law officers throughout the county and better utilize the talents of sheriff’s office employees.
Flores was endorsed by retiring sheriff Taylor. He received 82% of the vote for a landslide victory.
Flores is one of several men in East Texas who are serving their first term in office as sheriff. KETK recently spent time with new sheriffs to discuss their campaign, serving their communities and discussing their priorities.
Anderson County has just over 1,000 square miles. The vast majority of residents live in rural areas are communities with no police departments and relies on the sheriff’s department to keep them safe and solve crimes.
Deputies help patrol portions of highways 155, 84, 287, 79 and 19. The county is home to several state prisons in the Tennessee Colony area northwest of Palestine.
Our series also features interviews with:
- Cherokee County Sheriff Brent Dickson
- Wood County Sheriff Kelly Cole
- Henderson County Sheriff Johnwayne Valdez
- And Van Zandt County Sheriff Steve Hendrix
CRACKING DOWN ON DRUGS
After winning election, Flores wasted no time assembling his leadership team. He hired Nick Webb, a former Palestine PD patrol commander, as his chief deputy. He put new people in charge of criminal investigations, corrections and patrol divisions.
“Each of these leaders brings a great combination of experience, training and leadership skill to our team,” Flores announced on the office’s new Facebook page.
He began filling what he said were too many vacancies in the department and said he now reviewing salaries to make sure Anderson County is competitive with other East Texas sheriff’s offices.
Flores let county residents know that he was serious about cracking down on drug users. He released information that a resident concerned after seeing a man slumped over a steering wheel along a rural road led to deputies arresting someone for drug crimes and seizing drugs and weapons.
“Burglaries and thefts are a big problem,” Flores said. “A lot of it is drug related.”
In January, Flores hosted a regional Sheriff’s Intelligence and Information Sharing Meeting. Flores said they plan to meet each month.
“Criminals have no county lines,” he said, “We have individual cases but common areas of concern The goal is to share investigative resources and information.
DESIRE TO HELP
Flores said he never lost the desire to help people when they need help the most.
He was working in the Galveston area on May 18, 2018, when a teenage shooter opened fire in Santa Fe High School, Eight students and two teachers were killed. Thirteen people were wounded.
It remains one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.
Flores remembers rushing to the school as part of a massive law enforcement response. He remembers doing whatever he could to help a community in crisis.
“It hit too close to home,” he said of being a resident in the area.
After retiring as a Ranger, Flores says he realized he wasn’t ready to walk away from facing danger. He knew he still had the passion to help others.
“I realized, I had more gas left in my gas tank,” he said.