History made as mayor names interim Houston police chief

For the second time in Houston Police Department history, a woman will serve as chief. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner named Martha Montalvo as the interim chief with the pending resignation of Chief Charles McClelland. She has 35 years of experience with HPD and several of her relatives are also employed with the agency. 

The announcement on Thursday will certainly be considered an historic one.  

"Chief Montalvo is the first Hispanic and the second female to hold the position,” explains Mayor Turner.     

Montalvo joined the HPD as a rookie officer in 1980. Now she will lead the department. 

"Chief Montalvo will serve until I make a decision on a permanent replacement for Chief McClelleland, who is retiring at the end of next week,” adds Mayor Turner. 

“Chief McClelland, he has done an exemplary job," says Chief Montalvo. "He is also one of the most honorable individuals I know. He has been my mentor and I consider him my friend. I’ve always wanted to be a police officer and that’s what I did. It wasn’t easy. I had to work for it very hard. I promoted through the ranks." 

Montalvo's husband is a police lieutenant in HPD. Her son is a rookie officer at Central Patrol. Her brother-in-law is a police sergeant. Her cousin is a police officer who works in North Patrol. Her nephew is a Harris County deputy constable.

“It’s an emotional moment,” says Montalvo with tears in her eyes as she accepts her new title. 

An emotional moment in one way for Montalvo and no doubt emotional for outgoing Chief Charles McClelland, who is retiring after 39 years with HPD.  

"If i had any degree of success here at HPD, it is because of the men and women here," explains McClelland. "They clearly have supported me. They bought into my philosophy. We are more connected with the community. We are a different department than we were six years ago and that isn’t a bad thing.” 

There is a search committee identifying other potential chief candidates from throughout the U.S. and Mayor Turner will soon name a permanent police chief. It could be Montalvo. Keep in mind that Chief McClelland was also named interim chief six years ago before getting the job.

Elizabeth Watson made history as the first female Houston police chief from 1990 until 1992.

"I understand there are challenges ahead of us and I’m ready to get to work,” says Montalvo.