Dayton City Council approves Woods as police chief

Dayton City Manager Steve Floyd (left) and Mayor Caroline Wadzeck welcome new Police Chief Derek Woods after a special-called meeting on Thursday, Jan. 6.

Dayton City Council made it official Thursday night, Jan. 6, and voted in favor of making Derek Woods the new police chief.

Woods came highly recommended by new City Manager Steve Floyd. The two worked together previously at another city, and Floyd believes Woods is a good fit for Dayton.

“He has 24 years of law enforcement experience with many of those being in leadership positions. He has kept up with law enforcement trends and I feel he will be an asset and a great fit for the Dayton Police Department. I ask for your approval to make Derek Woods the next chief of police for the City of Dayton, Texas,” Floyd said to council after they emerged from an hour-long executive session to discuss Woods’ appointment.

While Floyd’s first official day on the job was Jan. 3, he has given a lot of consideration in picking candidates for the police chief and finance director positions, both of which were vacated recently.

“Mayor and council, I decided this was my first order of business as your new city manager. Before I started here, I knew I was challenged because of these two major positions – that being police chief and finance director. Although I wasn’t officially on staff when the past police chief resigned, I immediately went to work trying to fill this position,” he said.

Woods expects to start in Dayton once he has fulfilled his commitments to Jasper Police Department, where he has served as a lieutenant for the last six years. Prior to that, he served in the Criminal Investigation Division for 14 years as a detective sergeant. 

He began his law enforcement career in 1996 working as a dispatcher and reserve officer for Diboll Police Department. He is a graduate of the Angelina College Police Academy.

Woods holds a Master Peace Officer certification and is a graduate of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (Leadership Command College) through Texas A&M University, Texas Woman’s University and Sam Houston State University.

Before the vote, two members of the community addressed some concerns they have about the process for selecting a new chief.

One speaker was Marina Quiroz, whose daughter Madelyn was paralyzed in a tragic accident in January 2020. Quiroz complained to council and Floyd that the incident was not investigated properly, which resulted in the person responsible not being charged with a crime.

Concerns about the handling of Quiroz’s accident and another that claimed the life of Allyssa Salazar in September 2020 have led to the City hiring an independent investigator to look into whether mistakes were made by Dayton police.

“First of all, welcome to our city,” Quiroz said to Floyd. “I want you to know my name for good purposes. I am fighting a fight for this community, not just for my daughter, Madelyn, but the entire community. I understand we are going to have a new chief on board, and I want to welcome him with open arms as well. Being in law enforcement and a member of this community for 13 years, we have a lot of wonderful people in our community, but we also have a lot of downfalls. I believe the City has approved and hired an investigator for an independent investigation, and I want to thank you for that.”

Quiroz told Council she has heard complaints from people in the community about the City’s plans to hire Woods.

“A couple of people have reached out to me that they are not happy with the selection, not the person himself but the process,” she said.

Carol Ann Manning addressed the Council regarding Woods’ speedy hire and complained that more qualified candidates who live in Dayton might be overlooked.

“I can tell you there are numerous people, one in particular, who has a lot more credentials,” she said.

In other business, Council was expected to vote on a resolution amending the City’s personnel policy regarding employee vacation leave, but Floyd asked the Council to table the matter until a future meeting.

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