The search for El Paso’s next police chief has been whittled down to four candidates, including interim Chief Peter Pacillas, according to an email sent by a deputy city manager to the mayor and City Council on Thursday.
The final round of interviews will be Sept. 13 and 14, according to the email obtained by El Paso Matters. City officials, in a press release, said the next step will be to host on-site interviews to include multiple interview panels and practical exercises as well as a public reception. The public meet-and-greet with the four finalists will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 13 at the El Paso Museum of Art.
The finalists are:
Pacillas has been with the El Paso Police Department since 1985 and was an assistant chief from 2009 to 2023. Some of his other roles in the department include interim commander of the auto theft unit, fusion, intelligence unit and narcotics. He was the first sergeant selected for the newly formed Homeland Security Unit in 2004. Pacillas has a bachelor’s in organizational leadership from Mountain State University in Beckley, West Virginia.
Steve Dye, who recently retired as the Grand Prairie city manager. He also served as that city’s police chief from 2011 to 2020, and as a deputy city manager. Dye spent 29 years in law enforcement, including stints in Houston, Arlington and Garland, Texas. He has a master’s in criminal justice from Tarleton State University and a bachelor’s in law enforcement and police science from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, according to the city’s announcement.
David Ransom is a former El Paso Police officer and currently teaches criminal justice courses at Bay State College in Boston and serves as chief of police at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. A native El Pasoan, Ransom started his public safety career with EPPD in 1992, serving in patrol, gang enforcement and SWAT. As a lieutenant, he served for the El Paso International Airport police operations as special operations commander and planning, research and special projects. After more than 20 years working in El Paso, Ransom took the post as assistant director of public safety at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. He has a Ph.D. in global leadership from Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a master’s in strategic leadership from Mountain State University in Beckley, West Virginia, and a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Texas at El Paso.
Victor Zarur currently serves as interim executive assistant chief of the operations in the Office of Performance and Development with the El Paso Police Department. Zarur spent his first five years in law enforcement with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office before joining EPPD in 1995. Before assuming his current position, he served as assistant chief, region commander, lieutenant, sergeant and detective, starting in patrol. Zarur is an adjunct professor at El Paso Community College, where he began his education in policing. Zarur teaches both theory and practice of criminal justice. Zarur earned a master’s in criminal justice from Sul Ross University in Alpine, Texas, and a bachelor’s in criminal justice administration/law enforcement from Park University at Fort Bliss.
City Rep. Henry Rivera, who is a retired police officer, applauded the finalists.
“We have four qualified choices than can serve El Paso well,” he said. “I stand together with the residents and law enforcement that our next chief of police should meet all qualifications and have a deep understanding of our community. “
The search for a new police chief comes after former El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen, who had led the department for almost 15 years, died in January. Former City Manager Tommy Gonzalez appointed Pacillas, who served as an assistant chief under Allen since 2009, as interim police chief in February.
The city started the search for a new police chief in May after hiring the national recruitment firm SGR – Strategic Government Resources. The firm has been meeting with council members, community leaders and law enforcement associations. SGR also developed a survey to gather community input on what characteristics the new chief should have.
The Police Chief Search Committee, led by Deputy City Manager for Public Safety Mario D’Agostino, reviewed the applicants and selected the finalists.