New Chief of Police excited to be in ‘beautiful’ Lockhart
By Kyle Mooty
Gary Williamson has been in Lockhart for about a month as the new Chief of Police, and he understands the importance of all law enforcement agencies in the area working together.
“I did about 10 years in emergency management, and they always had the saying, ‘You don’t want to be meeting somebody for the first time during a crisis,’” Williamson said. “When bad things happen, you’re gonna have to ask your friends to come help. That was one of my big things where I came from, and Caldwell County is the same thing, a smaller county. You’ve got to build those relationships with law enforcement, community partners and the citizens.”
Williamson comes from El Campo, where he was with that police department for 23 years and the Chief of Police since 2020.
Born and raised in Galveston, which Williamson said is the “unofficial playground of Houston,” he has always had an interest in this part of Texas.
“Ever since me and my brothers were little, we vacationed in New Braunfels in the 70’s and 80’s,” Williamson said. “We always went on a summer vacation, and it was always in New Braunfels. One of my grandmother’s relatives was part of the founding families of New Braunfels — the Solms. Prince Solm is the one who brought the settlers to this area.
“About 12 years ago, my wife and I bought this little fixer-upper place in New Braunfels. Now, we’re gonna be there full time.”
Williamson said he had been through Lockhart before because it being the Barbecue Capital of Texas coming through was somewhat mandatory.
“And the square here is just beautiful,” he added.
Williamson has goals – short term and long term – as well as some preventative measures he hopes to install in Lockhart.
“My main two goals; one with probably every chief in the nation right now is recruitment and retention. We’ve got some openings and we’ve got to find a way to fill those. The second thing prior to me getting here that they had started on was the Texas Police Chiefs Association Accreditation Program. I’m also a part of that with them. I’d like to see that through and completed. Basically, accreditation is 170-plus best practices a modern police department should be following, kind of like minimum standards to make sure you’re providing services most efficiently, doing risk mitigation, and protecting people’s civil rights.”
Some current issues facing the Lockhart Police Department include a rash of recent car burglaries, something the department has worked on fervently, including making one arrest that was perhaps linked to several others.
“We also encourage people to lock their vehicles because I would say some 98-plus percent of the burglaries were vehicles left unlocked with items in it,” Williamson said.
Another issue Williamson believes will soon be of major concern is the homeless, which he said is coming.”
“I can tell you that has already started and it’s coming,” Williamson said. “We’re gonna have to get ahead of that with all of the growth coming. It’s probably only gonna get worse as time goes on. There aren’t a lot of resources around here. They have resources in Austin, but sometimes that looks lie San Francisco.”
Williamson said there was an instance recently where a guy had put up a tent on a man’s land he was clearing and wanting to sell. The camper also had several trash bags in the property. The man was found and given a couple of days to vacate the premises. Williamson is familiarizing himself with the local ordinances.
“I know there’s a no camping ordinance, but you can have other things like no loitering in a public place, and of course there can be trespassing, too.
“We’ve got everything covered, but we’re short-handed right now. We’re looking for good, qualified officers and dispatchers.”
Williamson and his wife, Stacie, have been married for 26 years. They have two sons – Tyler, 24, who attends the University of Houston-Victoria, and Ryan, 21, who attends Texas A&M University where he serves as the National FFA Officer.