Eric Mendez, the chief of police for the Austin (Texas) Independent School District, is leaving that post to become chief of police for the Cypress-Fairbanks district.
The Cypress-Fairbanks district says Mendez will replace Chief Alan Bragg, who is retiring in June after a 45-year law enforcement career.
“This is a great opportunity, not just professionally but also personally,” says Mendez, whose mother, brother and sister-in-law reside in the Cypress Fairbanks district in the Houston area. “I look forward to the professional challenges and growth I am going to have there, and to be close to family again."
Mendez has 27 years of law enforcement experience. He has served on the Austin school police force since 1999, the last five years as chief. Prior roles with the school district included resource officer/patrol officer, sergeant, lieutenant/bureau commander, interim chief of police and captain/assistant chief.
Before working in Austin, Mendez served nine years with the Kingsville Police Department as a patrolman/field training officer, corporal and sergeant/field training coordinator.
“I feel that my time in a large district like Austin ISD has given me the opportunity to learn and grow and take on this new challenge in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD," Mendez says.
Austin has about 83,000 students. Cypress-Fairbanks has close to 115,000 students.
The Austin American Statesman reports that the announcement of Mendez' departure comes just days after questions were raised about whether his staff properly handled a sexual assault allegation of a 4-year-old girl at Boone Elementary in February.
But Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said last week that her investigators are leaning toward a finding that the Boone student’s injuries weren’t the result of a sexual assault, and that “nothing about the way the officer closed the case compromised an appropriate outcome.”
Mendez says he delayed the announcement of his departure because he didn’t want the focus to be taken away from the investigation and from a parent meeting held last week at Boone.